Home U.S. News What We Know About the Trump Election Interference Case in Georgia

What We Know About the Trump Election Interference Case in Georgia

What We Know About the Trump Election Interference Case in Georgia

Starting on Monday morning, prosecutors in Fulton County, Ga., are expected to present a grand jury with the findings from their two-and-a-half-year investigation into former President Donald J. Trump and a number of his allies for their multipronged effort to overturn Mr. Trump’s narrow election loss in Georgia in November 2020.

The grand jury will likely decide within days whether Mr. Trump should be indicted for interfering in the presidential election in Georgia. The former president has already been indicted in three separate cases this year, a staggering legal burden for a politician who is running for another term.

Mr. Trump is far ahead of competitors in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination, and neck-and-neck with President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a potential rematch, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll conducted in late July.

Here is what we know about the investigation in Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta.

Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, began looking into whether Mr. Trump and his associates violated Georgia law shortly after a recording was released of Mr. Trump talking by phone to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, on Jan. 2, 2021. During the call, Mr. Trump insisted that he had won the state of Georgia and made baseless allegations of fraud, even though multiple recounts confirmed that he had lost.

Mr. Trump told Mr. Raffensperger that he wanted to “find” 11,780 votes in the state — one more than he needed to win Georgia and its Electoral College votes.

Over time, court documents and other public records revealed that Ms. Willis, a Democrat, was also investigating false statements that lawyers for Mr. Trump made in state legislative hearings; a meeting of 16 pro-Trump Republicans who cast bogus Electoral College votes for him; an intimidation campaign against a pair of Fulton County election workers falsely accused of fraud, and a successful effort by Trump allies to copy sensitive software at an elections office in rural Coffee County, Ga.

In February 2021, Ms. Willis, in a letter to state officials, said the potential laws violated include “the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”

That list may not prove definitive for a number of reasons, including that investigators probably had not settled on the final scope of their inquiry at the time. Outside legal experts have said that the Coffee County data breach could result in charges like computer trespassing and computer invasion of privacy.

Ms. Willis signaled repeatedly that she was considering pursuing charges under the state’s racketeering law, which is often used to target members of an “enterprise” that has engaged in a pattern of criminal activity.

The federal racketeering law is best known for being used against members of the mafia. But federal and state racketeering laws have been used in a wide array of cases. Prosecutors often use the laws to ensure that leaders of a criminal enterprise, and not just the foot soldiers, are held accountable.

The Georgia investigation may prove to be the most expansive legal challenge yet to the efforts that Mr. Trump and his advisers and other associates undertook to keep him in power after he lost the 2020 election. Nearly 20 people are known to have been told that they could face charges. They include Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who, as a Trump lawyer, made numerous false claims about voter fraud at Georgia legislative hearings.

They also include David Shafer, the former chair of the state Republican Party. He oversaw the meeting of the bogus electors in December 2020; more than half of the electors have been cooperating with Ms. Willis’s office.

A number of lawyers who worked to keep Mr. Trump in power have been under scrutiny in the investigation, including John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and Kenneth Chesebro. Last year, Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, was ordered to testify before a special grand jury that aided in the investigation.

The Justice Department blocked an effort to seek the testimony of Jeffrey Clark, a former high-ranking lawyer in the department who sought to intervene in Georgia on Mr. Trump’s behalf after the 2020 election.

A number of people whose names have been mentioned in connection with the investigation have said that they did nothing illegal, including Mr. Trump, who has described his call to Mr. Raffensperger as “absolutely perfect.”

Ms. Willis has said that she has not coordinated with Jack Smith, the special counsel in two federal investigations of Mr. Trump that have resulted in indictments. But Ms. Willis’s team has made use of the voluminous documents and testimony about election interference efforts produced by Congress’s Jan. 6 Committee.

One of the federal cases is related to the former president’s handling of classified documents; the other to his efforts to reverse his defeat in the 2020 election. Another indictment, in New York State, is related to what prosecutors described as a hush-money scheme to cover up a potential sex scandal and clear his path to the presidency in 2016. Mr. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all three cases.

If the Fulton County grand jury decides to indict, any defendants will have to make their way to Atlanta to be booked and arraigned. A number of them could face multiple charges, and the potential sentences could be steep: Violating racketeering law alone can potentially result in a five-to-20-year sentence.

There is also the question of when a trial might occur, given Mr. Trump’s legal troubles in several other venues. If the Georgia case results in multiple defendants, pretrial matters like jury selection could take months.

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