Investigating Trump and his Allies’ Campaign to Overturn a 2020 Presidential Election in Georgia: New Court Petitions from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis
A special purpose grand jury was empaneled last year to investigate potential crimes stemming from former President Donald Trump and his allies’ failed efforts to reverse his 2020 election defeat in Georgia.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading the investigation into 2020 election interference, filed additional court petitions on Friday seeking to secure testimony from the out-of-state witnesses in front of the special grand jury meeting in Atlanta.
During the heated Oval Office meeting, CNN previously reported, Flynn and Powell floated outrageous suggestions about overturning the election, three weeks after Trump pardoned Flynn.
CNN reported last month that the House select committee investigating the January, 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol sent a letter to Gingrich seeking his voluntary cooperation to discuss his role promoting false claims that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen.
The ex Trump White House lawyer and at least two other individuals are at risk of being subpoenaed as a result of the court paperwork that was filed on Friday.
During a hearing last month on whether to publicly release the report, Willis, a Democrat, suggested the special grand jury has recommended multiple indictments and said that her decision on whether to bring charges is “imminent.”
If the district attorney asks questions about Mr. Graham’s constitutionally protected activities, he may return to the federal courts.
However, he added, those objections may have to be hashed out in open court — a risk for the senator, Mr. Cunningham said, “because it may disclose to public view both the topics the grand jury is exploring and his unwillingness to answer such questions.”
Legal experts believe the case represents a serious threat to Mr. Trump, who was recorded on a phone call with Mr. Raffensperger in January 2021, telling him he wanted to “find” 11,780 votes — one vote more than he needed to declare victory.
In recent months, a number of high-profile allies of Mr. Trump have been waging battles in courtrooms around the nation, arguing that they should not have to participate. Their track record has not been all good.
The Justice Department’s long-running effort to enforce a May 2022 subpoena for all classified records in Trump’s possession. After a sealed December hearing, Howell gave Smith’s investigators an avenue to ask more questions of two people hired to search Trump’s properties in December and found more documents with classified markings. Those two people testified to the grand jury late last month. CNN and sixteen other national media outlets have requested transcripts of hearings and other records in the case.
Last week, two individuals who were hired to search for four of Trump’s properties were each interviewed for about three hours.
They were hired to search Trump’s Bedminster golf club, Trump Tower in New York, an office location in Florida and a storage unit in Florida last October, months after the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. The extent of information they offered the grand jury remains unclear, though they didn’t decline to answer any questions, one of the sources said.
The development comes at the same time federal prosecutors are pushing to look at files on a laptop of at least one staff member around Trump at Mar-a-Lago, according to multiple sources. The special counsel has been unwilling to negotiate over subpoenas, which has led to tense conversations.
Another source said that investigators were trying to find out if there was an electronic paper trail regarding the classified documents.
The Mar-a-Lago documents case is still ongoing and the Justice Department has newer inquires into national security records of President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence.
The situations of Biden and Pence have been very different. While they also highlight sloppiness around the tracking of classified papers, both Biden’s and Pence’s teams have readily handed them back to intelligence officials.
The discovery of additional records by the two people Trump’s lawyers hired came in November, well after Trump’s team and the FBI under a court-approved warrant unearthed hundreds of other classified pages in his possession following his presidency. At that time, the Justice Department had a dispute with Trump’s lawyers over whether they had adequately searched his properties and turned over all classified records still in his possession. The investigation was continuing after the DOJ was not satisfied.
An Order from McBurney Against releasing the report of the special grand jury into the Mar-a-Lago investigation without an indictment
Special counsel Jack Smith and prosecutors who now work for him have used the federal grand jury nearly weekly to question witnesses in the Mar-a-Lago investigation.
The findings by the grand jury won’t be made public yet, but they will make recommendations about possible charges. Some of the people named in the recommendations may not have testified before the grand jury.
The report’s conclusion, introduction and concerns of witnesses lying under oath will be made public on Thursday, according to an order from Judge Robert McBurney.
McBurney was clear that other findings by the special grand jury won’t be made public yet – particularly the parts where the report makes recommendations about potential charges. That’s because some of the people named in those recommendations may not have appeared in grand jury proceedings so far.
In the Jan. 24 hearing, Willis and her staff argued against releasing the report at this time to protect the rights of those who might be indicted later.
McBurney’s order is a slight compromise, writing that certain parts of the report should be shared with the public while others merit secrecy until further action by prosecutors.
Unlike regular grand juries, which meet for a much more limited time and consider multiple cases, this rarely used body spent roughly eight months interviewing more than 70 witnesses and gathering evidence, though it did not have the power to issue indictments.
Jurors decided to make the report public, but the judge had questions about the applicability of precedents that have historically prevented such reports from outlining crimes without an indictment.
McBurney found that the uniqueness of the special purpose grand jury left him with a decision that “is not that simple,” calling the investigation “entirely appropriately a one-sided exploration” that means it would not be fair to have that exploration made public outside of a court setting if and when indictments are issued.
“We have to be mindful of protecting future defendants’ rights,” Willis said. “We want to make sure that everyone is treated fairly, and we think for future defendants to be treated fairly, it’s not appropriate at this time to have this report released.”
Parts of the special grand jury report released Thursday shed light on how the panel – which had 26 members, including three alternates – operated behind closed doors over the past several months.
At this time, no charges have been brought in the investigation. During a hearing last month she mentioned that her decision on whether to indict was imminent, and said that multiple indictments would be recommended by the special grand jury.
Even if the special grand jury did not weigh in on any potential legal violations by the former president, and even if Willis declines to pursue charges, there are still multiple other inquiries Trump is facing as he begins his third run for the White House, including federal probes into mishandling of classified documents, investigations into the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot and a pair of New York probes into his business empire.
Special counsel Jack Smith is locked in at least eight secret court battles that aim to unearth some of the most closely held details about Donald Trump’s actions after the 2020 election and handling of classified material, according to sources and court records reviewed by CNN.
The outcome of these disputes could have far reaching implications as they are related to a presidential candidate, and could lead the courts to shape the law in a way they have never done before.
The sheer number of grand jury challenges from potential witnesses is both a reflection of the scope of the special counsel’s investigation and a hallmark of Trump’s ultra-combative style in the face of investigations.
By comparison, Robert Mueller’s grand jury investigation into Trump had a smattering of sealed proceedings where investigators used the court to pry for more answers, and independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater investigation ultimately totaled seven similar sealed cases.
There are at least half a dozen cases in court which are either before Chief Judge Beryl Howell or the appeals court above her. Most appear to follow the typical arc of miscellaneous cases that arise during grand jury investigations, where prosecutors sometimes use the court to enforce their subpoenas.
More challenges from subpoenaed witnesses – including former Vice President Mike Pence – are expected to be filed in the coming days, likely under seal as well. Questions about the protections around the vice presidency may be raised by Pence.
“I think we are in extraordinary times. Neil Eggleston, a former White House counsel who argued for executive privilege during the Clinton administration, believes that President Trump continues to make up theories after the court has ruled against them.
The court in Washington ruled that privilege claims wouldn’t hold up when a grand jury needed information, so witnesses shied away from trying to refuse to testify. The witnesses are testing to see if he still has special confidentiality protections.
An appeal over whether former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone and deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin could decline to answer questions about direct conversations with Trump from the end of his presidency. Both men cited various privileges when they testified to the grand jury in September, but were forced to appear a second time and give more answers after court rulings in November and December, CNN previously confirmed. As a result of their testimony, the Trump team filed an appeal.
Following the seizure of Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Scott Perry’s cell phone in August in the January 6 investigation, lawyers for the congressman challenged the Justice Department’s ability to access data taken from the phone, citing protection around Congress under the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause. The records were not kept from investigators, but the DOJ was blocked from seeing them so far by an appeals court panel, according to court records. The case is going to be argued on February 23 in Washington. The circuit court also has a request from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to unseal documents in the case.
Howell has released redacted versions of two attorney confidentiality decisions she made last year giving prosecutors access to emails between Perry and three lawyers – John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Ken Klukowski – before January 6, 2021.
Clark tried to keep investigators from seeing a draft of his memoir that talks about his efforts to get the Justice Department to help Donald Trump. Clark tried to mark the outline of his life as an attorney.
The Justice Department secured a court order for Trump adviser Kash Patel to answer questions under oath in the Mar-a-Lago investigation. His Fifth Amendment protection against self-Incrimination led to him declining to answer questions before the grand jury. Then prosecutors fought for more answers by immunizing his testimony from prosecution, CNN previously reported.
The grand jury probes are not being disclosed by the Justice Department because it won’t admit they are taking place.
On Monday, they argued to Howell that with the intense public interest around the cases, there should be even more secrecy than when the court releases other records.
“To advance the policy goals underlying grand jury secrecy, it may well be necessary for a court to more frequently decline to release judicial opinions ancillary to grand jury investigations that are the subject of intense press attention as opposed to matters that have attracted little public attention,” lawyers from the DOJ’s civil division wrote.
The Detection of a Crime by a State Attorney General in Georgia During the Biden/Trump Corrupted November 2020 Election
Trump lost to Joe Biden in Georgia by nearly 12,000 votes in 2020. The former president has insisted that there was nothing problematic about his activities contesting the election.
Cunningham believes that the conduct mentioned in the report is either done on Trump’s behalf or directly by him.
The citizens spent nine months working on this and have concluded that some of the work done on the former president’s behalf to overturn the election results was a crime. “I think that’s terrifically significant.”
The Georgia probe began two years ago after a phone call from Trump to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to find votes for Trump in the state. The phone call was referred to by Trump as a perfect one.
The special grand jury, barred from issuing indictments, penned their final report as a culmination of its seven months of work, which included interviewing 75 witnesses, from Giuliani to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Its final report is likely to include some summary of the panel’s investigative work, as well as any recommendations for indictments and the alleged conduct that led the panel to its conclusions.
No one has been charged in the case yet, and another grand jury in Fulton County would make those decisions now that the special grand jury has presented its findings to Willis.
It was established by the grand jury that Trump tried to overturn the results of a legitimate election. State prosecutors are considering indicting Trump and his allies for crimes related to 2020.
The Grand Jury that Observed the Mueller Report on a Countable Defendant’s Democrat Candidate
The special grand jury that heard witness testimony heard nothing about the witnesses named in the recommendation, and the pages that were released Thursday do not give any information about their testimony.
It couldn’t be higher of the consequences of his decisions. The Republican primary field could be thrown open by the charging of Trump decision.
Trump did not appear before the panel. The campaign said in Thursday’s statement that he did not do anything wrong by calling Georgia election officials.
The grand jury examined both physical and digital evidence as well as the testimony of investigators, the input of a team of assistant district attorneys who outlined for the grand jury the applicable statutes and procedures.
The majority of the grand jury took the time to attend every session and listen to every witness and understand the facts as they were presented.
The nine pages released Thursday was just short and didn’t provide much information about the investigation.