A Georgia judge has approved Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ request for a special grand jury to aid in her investigation of former President Donald Trump’s attempt to hijack the state’s 2020 election results.
The decision means that now Willis will be able to subpoena witnesses to compel testimony, under oath, about what they knew of Trump’s efforts. That includes Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is at the center of the controversy that led to Willis’ investigation and who has said he would testify if subpoenaed.
The special grand jury can continue for a period “not to exceed 12 months,” Christopher Brasher, chief judge of Fulton County Superior Court, wrote in an order.
“The special purpose grand jury shall be authorized to investigate any and all facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to alleged violations of the laws of the State of Georgia, as set forth in the request of the District Attorney referenced hereinabove,” he added. “The special purpose grand jury … make recommendations concerning criminal prosecution as it shall see fit.”
That last part is key because unlike leaders of some other Trump investigations, including that of New York Attorney General Letitia James and the Jan. 6 committee led by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, Willis could have the ability to bring criminal charges against the ex-prez should the grand jury testimony support them.
James’ investigation into the Trump Organization is civil in nature, though she could turn over evidence to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is also conducting a criminal probe. Thompson’s committee doesn’t have prosecutorial power though it can recommend contempt of Congress charges and turn over evidence to the Justice Department.
Willis first asked for a special grand jury last week, nearly a year after she assumed office and was almost immediately confronted by the dual challenges of Trump’s phone call asking Raffensperger to find him votes and a spike in violent crime in Atlanta, the seat of Fulton County.