In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis appears to be quite serious about her ongoing criminal investigation into attempts by former President Trump and certain allies of his to undercut the 2020 presidential election outcome in her state.
Now, 11 individuals who signed on as fake electors for Trump from Georgia despite Biden’s win in the state revealed in a court filing they were informed they’re now “targets” of the Willis probe, meaning indictments are possible. All 11 were also issued grand jury subpoenas as part of the Willis probe; the subpoenas demanded that all appear for testimony, which they are challenging. According to the new court filing, representing a push from the fake electors for the subpoenas demanding their testimony to be blocked, prosecutor Nathan Wade revealed the change in status for the fake electors in late June. They’d previously been treated as witnesses. The filing melodramatically asserts they’re now “persecuted targets” of the special grand jury working on Willis’s probe.
“In light of the escalation, counsel advised the elector nominees to invoke their federal and state constitutional and statutory rights not to provide substantive testimony to the Grand Jury, advice they have reluctantly accepted,” the filing adds. In other words, they’re leaning on protections including those in the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. Overall, the court filing relies in large part on rather heated language: “Additionally, the DA knows (or should know), and therefore the Grand Jury knows or should know, that under the governing law, the nominee electors’ actions were legal,” it asserts. “Despite this fact, the DA’s office persists in publicly claiming otherwise and misusing the Grand Jury process to harass, embarrass, and attempt to intimidate the nominee electors, not to investigate their conduct.”
Among other arguments against the Willis investigation, including complaints about her supposedly lacking jurisdictional authority, the court document also appears to rehash debunked arguments about the process of casting and counting electoral votes. “Even if the DA and the Grand Jury had jurisdiction here, federal law specifically anticipates and permits the submission of more than one slate of presidential electors from a State and, as noted, gives Congress exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate the validity of those slates within the parameters set in the Electoral Count Act (“ECA”) and through their own internal procedures,” the filing asserts. Wasn’t the entire problem with some of what Trump allies were doing after the last election that federal legal standards don’t broadly allow states to turn in more than one slate of presidential electors? Anecdotally, such an allowance would no doubt lead to chaos.
“We’ve seen how President Trump worked with and directed the Republican National Committee and others to organize an effort to create fake electoral slates and later to transmit those materially false documents to federal officials,” House riot investigation committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) stated at a public hearing of the panel, sketching out what sounds like a path to potentially recognizing criminality in the scheme. Key portions of the new court filing attempt to cast the people who signed on as supposed electors for Trump from Georgia as simply participating in a good-faith effort to deal with election-related uncertainty, but there was never any evidence of any kind of legitimate issue with the election that could have feasibly meant a court challenge to the results would change things. They’ve relied on the notion they were just keeping Trump’s options open if a key, election-related court challenge was successful.