Georgia Grand Jury convenes for Trump Election Probe

Prosecutors whittled down a group of 200 Fulton County residents to the 23 they need to serve on a special grand jury that will investigate whether former President Donald Trump should be charged for his attempts to pressure Georgia officials to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost. As alternates, three additional persons were also selected.

Judge Robert McBurney encouraged potential grand jurors to declare themselves “conflicts” when they reach a decision about Trump’s crime.

“Because this grand jury will be investigating a specific situation, the 2020 election here in Georgia, it’s important that the grand jury be comprised of individuals who bring an open mind to the process,” McBurney said.

Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis requested a panel to form a special grand jury in January because there was “information suggesting a reasonable possibility” that election could be disrupted by criminals. “

Willis briefly spoke Monday and thanked those present for their service.

Willis has said in interviews that the investigation includes a January 2, 2021 phone call in which Trump told Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, “I just want to find 11,780 votes.” Trump lost the state to Joe Biden by that margin — an outcome that was affirmed by several recounts.

Special grand jury are uncommon. These grand juries are unusual because they focus only on one investigation and may be imprisoned longer than other grand juries that can consider charging recommendations for multiple investigations.

This grand jury will “have an investigatory focus that is appropriate for the complexity of these facts and circumstances,” Willis stated in her January request.

Willis stated in her January request that “a substantial number of witnesses, and potential witnesses have declined to cooperate with this investigation without a subpoena for their testimony.”

McBurney stated to jurors they could expect their service would be long, possibly even longer than one year. They can also anticipate meeting more often and less frequently. They may not be able to appear in court until June, he said.

Willis said in an April 19 interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she will wait until after the state’s May 24 primaries to issue subpoenas to public officials. Willis stated to the newspaper that she doesn’t want any one to think she is doing it to affect the outcome of the upcoming elections.

Willis notified at least four state officials of her investigation in February 2021, sending document preservation notices to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr.

Trump said in a January 20 statement that “My phone call to the Secretary of State of Georgia was perfect. A Trump spokesperson claimed that an “illegal voter trafficking ring” had affected the outcome in Georgia’s elections. This was referring to unproven claims made often by Trump supporters.

“A grand jury should be opened for the massive voter fraud in Georgia in 2020,” said Liz Harrington, the Trump spokesperson.

Graham Kates

Graham Kates, an investigative reporter for CBS News Digital covering privacy and criminal justice issues. Contact Graham at KatesG@cbsnews.com or grahamkates@protonmail.com

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