Tue. Jun 25th, 2024
The latest news on Trump and the Fulton County, Georgia, election case

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sits in a courtroom in the Fulton county courthouse, Tuesday, July 11, 2023, in Atlanta.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sits in a courtroom in the Fulton county courthouse, Tuesday, July 11, 2023, in Atlanta. Brynn Anderson/AP

The Atlanta-area district attorney investigating former President Donald Trump and his allies has been lining up witnesses to appear before a grand jury in order to craft a narrative around how Trump and his supporters tried to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election in the Peach State, according to people familiar with the matter.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to spend two days presenting her case before a grand jury this week.

Willis could seek several indictments as she eyes a sweeping racketeering case that could cast Trump and several of his associates as operating as a criminal enterprise in their endeavors to upend Georgia’s election results.

If Willis proceeds with racketeering charges, “I think she is going to tell a story,” said Georgia State law professor Clark D. Cunningham. “The story of how one person at the top – the former president – really marshaled an army of people to accomplish his goal which was to stay in power through any means.”

The witnesses Willis has subpoenaed include former Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, former Georgia Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan and independent journalist George Chidi. All of them previously testified before a special purpose grand jury that was tasked with investigating the Trump case and heard from more than 75 witnesses.

Willis launched her investigation into Trump in early 2021, soon after he called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and pressured the Republican to “find” the votes necessary for Trump to win the state of Georgia. At a campaign event Tuesday, Trump continued to insist it was a “perfect phone call.”

Her investigation has steadily expanded, and Willis has been weighing racketeering charges in the Trump case. RICO – the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act – is a statute the district attorney has spoken fondly of and used in unorthodox ways to bring charges against teachers as well as musicians in the Atlanta area.

In 2015, Willis was thrust into the national spotlight as a Fulton County prosecutor when she used Georgia’s racketeering statute to charge teachers, principals and other education officials in an Atlanta Public School cheating scandal.

After a 7-month trial, Willis secured convictions for 11 of the 12 defendants charged with racketeering and other crimes related to cheating that was believed to date to early 2001, when scores on statewide skills tests began to rise in the 50,000-student school district.

“The reason that I am a fan of RICO is, I think jurors are very, very intelligent,” Willis told reporters in 2022 at a news conference about a gang-related indictment. “They want to know what happened. They want to make an accurate decision about someone’s life. And so, RICO is a tool that allows a prosecutor’s office and law enforcement to tell the whole story.”

Soon after Willis embarked on her Trump investigation, she retained attorney John Floyd – known for his depth of knowledge in racketeering cases – to assist her office.

In addition to allowing prosecutors to weave a narrative, Georgia’s racketeering statute allows investigators to pull a broader array of conduct into their indictments, including activities that took place outside of the state of Georgia but may have been part of a broader conspiracy.

Those convicted of racketeering charges also face steeper penalties, a point of leverage for prosecutors if they are hoping to flip potential co-conspirators or encourage defendants to take plea deals.

Read more about the possible charges in the case.

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