Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, whose jurisdiction includes the Atlanta area, is moving to secure subpoenas for documents and witnesses as part of her ongoing criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump, according to a new report from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to the publication, “prosecutors are expected to appear before a grand jury this week” in their quest for subpoenas.
Willis is investigating Trump over his efforts to overturn the documented presidential election outcome in Georgia, where President Joe Biden was victorious. As part of Trump’s effort, he once personally spoke with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on the phone and implored the top official to “find” enough votes to flip the state.
Trump allies including Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) were also involved in the effort to overturn the election — Giuliani peddled lies about the election during a hearing of the state Senate Judiciary Committee, while Graham also spoke with Raffensperger and, in the description of the top official himself, pressured him to find a way to discard legally cast votes in the state.
The potential crimes under investigation by Willis are serious. In the description of the Journal-Constitution, Willis recently “indicated she’s investigating several state crimes, including solicitation of election fraud, making false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.” In Georgia, a racketeering conviction — which would cover an organized criminal fraud conspiracy — comes with a jail sentence of five to twenty years, while a first-degree conviction of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in Georgia brings one to three years in prison.
The early January phone conversation in which Trump begged Raffensperger to “find” enough votes was recorded. As Atlanta attorney David Walbert — who’s actually represented Fulton County and the state of Georgia in election-related court cases in the past — put it, “If there were a textbook (example of) how to commit criminal election fraud, this would be it.” There’s the issue of proving criminal intent on Trump’s part and the part of any of his allies who are ensnared in the investigation, but the precarious and potentially criminal nature of their original actions are clear.
Interestingly, in discussion with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia State University law professor Clark Cunningham observed that there’s “a plausible narrative that Giuliani is the mastermind and Trump just followed his lead.”
Giuliani, a longtime Trump ally, is already facing serious legal problems connected to his advocacy on behalf of the lie that the 2020 presidential election was rigged for Joe Biden. Voting technology companies Dominion and Smartmatic, who figured prominently in the Trump-allied conspiracies, have both targeted Giuliani with defamation lawsuits. In Smartmatic’s case, Giuliani is one of a slew of defendants in their $2.7 billion defamation case, while Dominion targeted Giuliani alone with a $1.3 billion lawsuit. Giuliani tried to avoid getting served with the Dominion suit to the point that he once closed his car door in the face of a process server and apparently refused to open it back up. A Giuliani assistant ended up accepting the papers.