A criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia is ramping up as prosecutors are set to seek subpoenas for documents and witnesses related to their investigation of the former president.
A person familiar with the investigation told CNN that prosecutors are likely to rely heavily on subpoenas rather than voluntary requests for records and interviews, in part to establish a clear court record of their pursuit of evidence as two Fulton County grand juries convene on Thursday.
Trump’s pressure on Georgia officials to declare him the winner of the presidential contest was just one of the former president’s many attempts to falsely claim victory. Trump baselessly declared himself the winner in the wee hours after Election Day, and later appeared in the White House briefing room to assert “if you count the legal votes, I easily win.” As recently as Sunday, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump continued to push the “big lie,” falsely claiming that he actually won in November.
Last month, Fulton County DA Fani Willis had sent letters to Georgia state officials asking them to preserve documents relevant to election interference as she investigated potential state crimes including the solicitation of election fraud, conspiracy and racketeering.
According to copies of the letters obtained by CNN, none of the Georgia officials are targets of the investigation.
Willis’ widening investigation, which initially stemmed from the now-infamous call in early January in which Trump pushed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” him enough votes to win the state, is now expected to include any other efforts by the former president and his allies to influence the Peach State’s elections, including calls to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and contact with Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (R).
Willis is expected to follow a federal model — impaneling a grand jury for several months and meeting weekly to hear subpoenas for evidence, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported earlier this week.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a loyal Trump ally, had also phoned Raffensperger, reportedly requesting that he discard some of the states mail-in ballots. Graham has denied Raffensperger’s characterization of the phone call, which is likely to also undergo scrutiny in Willis’ probe.
Notes taken from any of the people on Trump’s call to Raffensperger, or the call between Raffensperger and Graham, could also take center-stage as evidence, the Journal-Constitution noted.
The Fulton County DA has also taken an interest in the sudden departure of U.S. Attorney Byung “BJay” Pak, who resigned from his post suddenly in January shortly after the call between Trump and Raffensperger on Jan. 2.
During the hour-long call, Trump had continued to press the secretary of state to effectively toss out votes for Biden, saying, according to a recording of the call obtained by the Washington Post: “The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry. And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”
Trump pushed Raffensperger multiple times during the call to “find” votes to reverse his election loss, pressuring the Georgia official to declare him the state’s winner.
Trump’s requests during that call came after 18 attempted calls from the White House to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office between the election and the Jan. 2 call.
A Trump senior adviser, Jason Miller, previously told CNN there was nothing “improper or untoward” about the call between Trump and Raffensperger.
The far-reaching exploration of Trump and his allies’ efforts to overturn Georgia’s election results will also likely extend to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s meddling.
Giuliani had testified before Georgia state senators and promoted baseless conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines flipping votes to Biden, which has become the source of a separate lawsuit Giuliani is now embroiled in.