A panel of Fulton County Superior Court judges Monday approved allowing District Attorney Fani Willis to summon a special grand jury to investigate whether former President Donald Trump and his associates attempted to illegally orchestrate overturning Georgia’s 2020 election results.
Chief Judge Christopher Brasher’s order comes after the lead prosecutor of Georgia’s most populous county requested last week that the judges permit to her to call a special grand jury to examine whether Trump or others illegally attempted to persuade election officials to flip his loss in favor of the GOP candidate.
According to the order, the grand jury will be in place on May 2 and able to meet for up to 12 months. Brasher wrote that the special grand jury would enable Fulton’s regular grand juries to continue clearing up the backlog of cases that piled up during the pandemic.
Willis wrote to Fulton judges on Thursday that special grand juries would have a better chance of handling the case’s complexities and would allow her to subpoena reluctant witnesses like Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who declined Trump’s request to “find” votes on a January 2021 phone call. The recorded call prompted Willis to open an investigation.
A special grand jury cannot indict people like a regular grand jury, but it can make recommendations to prosecutors about whether to proceed with a case.
In the Fulton investigation, legal experts say that Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who claimed there was widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election at a Georgia Senate committee hearing and reportedly oversaw illegitimate electors, and others could face criminal charges.
Trump has defended his call with Raffensperger as the former president maneuvered to try to keep his job.
After the 2020 election, Trump and his allies cited unfounded allegations of voter fraud as the reason he narrowly lost in Georgia to Democrat Joe Biden by fewer than 12,000 votes.
Raffensperger and Willis have disputed how much the secretary of state’s office is cooperating with the investigation. Despite repeatedly rebutting claims that cast doubt on the election outcome, Raffensperger last week cast Willis’ investigation as politically motivated.