AP

Trump election probe in Georgia to seat special grand jury

Apr 29, 2022, 9:38 AM | Updated: 3:15 pm

ATLANTA (AP) — When potential grand jurors show up at an Atlanta courthouse Monday, they’ll find a television camera in the room and streets closed outside — nods to the intense public interest in the investigation into whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to pressure Georgia officials to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election victory in the state.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has taken the unusual step of requesting a special grand jury for the investigation, and the selection of that panel begins Monday.

The seating of a grand jury — even a rare special grand jury — is a routine process that’s generally of little interest to the public. But the appetite for any news about this case has prompted the court to make accommodations for at least parts of the grand jury selection to be broadcast to the public. Although there will be cameras in the room, they won’t be allowed to show potential grand jurors.

The investigation into potential attempts to influence the 2020 general election in Georgia began early last year. Willis asked the chief judge of the county superior court in January to impanel a special grand jury. She wrote in a letter that her office had information indicating a “reasonable probability” of “possible criminal disruptions” to the administration of that election.

The chief judge’s order says the special grand jury is to be seated for a period of up to a year, beginning Monday. Unlike a regular grand jury, which hears many different cases and can issue indictments, a special grand jury focuses on investigating a single topic and produces a report on its findings. The district attorney then decides whether to seek an indictment from a regular grand jury.

Former Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter, who convened a special grand jury roughly 15 years ago, said the process for seating a special grand jury is pretty much the same as seating a regular grand jury. It’s made up of between 16 and 23 people who are summoned from the county master jury list.

The judge will make sure the potential grand jurors are qualified — over 18, residents of Fulton County and haven’t been convicted of a felony — and then will hear from people who want to be excused for one reason or another.

Unlike jury selection for a trial, where there are two sets of lawyers trying to ferret out biases and prejudices, there’s no defense attorney in this process because no one has been charged yet. Anyone who tunes in to watch shouldn’t expect to hear potential grand jurors questioned extensively about their political leanings or their opinions on Trump.

“There’s no excuses for bias or prejudice,” Porter said. “In this case, I would suspect if somebody came in wearing a MAGA hat, they would probably excuse them. But the inquiry into their prejudices or biases is very, very limited in selecting a grand jury.”

Once the special grand jury is seated, the cameras will have to leave — all grand jury proceedings are secret. But Willis indicated in her letter to the chief judge that one reason she wanted a special grand jury is to issue subpoenas to witnesses who have refused to cooperate without one.

Willis has confirmed that her team is looking into a January 2021 phone call in which Trump pushed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the votes needed for him to win the state. She has also said they’re looking at a November 2020 phone call between U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger, the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021, and comments made during December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election.

A Trump spokesman has previously dismissed the investigation as a politically motivated “witch hunt.” Graham has also denied wrongdoing.

In a separate investigation in New York, Trump is appealing rulings enforcing a subpoena for his testimony and holding him in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents in a civil investigation that the state attorney general’s office says has uncovered evidence that he may have misstated the value of skyscrapers and other assets for more than a decade.

Trump’s lawyers argue that Attorney General Letitia James is using the civil probe to collect information that could then be used against the former president in a parallel criminal probe overseen by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. James and Bragg are both Democrats.

Bragg says the criminal investigation is continuing despite a shakeup in the probe’s leadership. So far, it’s resulted only in tax fraud charges related to fringe benefits against the Trump Organization and its longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg. Both have pleaded not guilty.

___

Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed reporting.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of metro Phoenix that r...

Associated Press

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain

A plan to manage rural groundwater passed the Arizona Senate amid concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations.

1 day ago

A woman pauses while shopping at a Kohl's store in Clifton, N.J., Jan. 26, 2024. On Thursday, Feb. ...

Associated Press

Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge picked up last month in sign of still-elevated prices

An inflation gauge favored by the Federal Reserve increased in January, the latest sign that the slowdown in U.S. consumer price increases is occurring unevenly from month to month.

2 days ago

This undated image provided by Mikel Desmond shows his brother Marcus Tessier, who turned up in Dem...

Associated Press

Missing teen with autism found in New Mexico, about 200 miles away from his Arizona home

A missing teen with autism has been found in New Mexico — about 200 miles away from his home in southern Arizona.

2 days ago

A newly released report on last year’s fatal crash involving a pickup truck and a group of bicycl...

Associated Press

Report suggests steering of vehicle that caused fatal Goodyear bicycle crash worked fine

A new report on last year’s fatal Goodyear bicycle crash has cast doubts about the driver’s claim the vehicle’s steering locked up.

3 days ago

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

5 days ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Trump election probe in Georgia to seat special grand jury