Georgia prosecutor granted special grand jury in Trump election probe

A Georgia prosecutor investigating possible 2020 election interference by former President Donald Trump and others has been granted a special grand jury to proceed with the probe.

The grand jury requested by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis will have the power to subpoena witnesses in an investigation that focuses on any “coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections” in Georgia.

Christopher Brasher, the chief judge of Fulton County Superior Court, granted the request Monday, saying it was “considered and approved by a majority” of the judges on the court. The special grand jury will begin May 2 and continue for not more than 12 months, according to Brasher’s order.

Willis, who is leading the investigation, made the request last week.

A significant number of witnesses have refused to cooperate without subpoenas that require their testimony, Willis said. She has also argued that a special grand jury was needed because it could serve a term longer than a normal grand jury term and concentrate specifically on this investigation, which she said involves complex facts and circumstances.

In making the request, Willis cited an NBC “Meet the Press” interview in which Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he would gladly respond to a grand jury summons.

Willis has declined to speak about the specifics of her investigation. In an interview with The Associated Press this month, she confirmed that its scope includes a phone call between Trump and Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021; a phone call between Raffensperger and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in November 2020; the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021; and comments made during legislative committee hearings about the election in December 2020.

A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. In a statement last week, Trump defended his January 2021 phone call with Raffensperger, saying it was “perfect.” He also repeated false claims of election fraud and suggested that the special grand jury should investigate his claims rather than the phone call.

During the call, Trump pressured Raffensperger to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in Georgia while repeatedly berating state officials. In a recent book, Raffensperger wrote that he felt Trump was threatening him in the call.