Trump election probe grand jury to hear from Raffensperger

May 27, 2022, 11:34 AM | Updated: 3:25 pm
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, right, talks with a member of her team during proceedi...

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, right, talks with a member of her team during proceedings to seat a special purpose grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, on Monday, May 2, 2022, to look into the actions of former President Donald Trump and his supporters who tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The hearing took place in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

(AP Photo/Ben Gray)

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s secretary of state is expected to appear next week before a special grand jury in an investigation into whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to meddle in the 2020 election in the state.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has been summoned to appear before the special grand jury Thursday, according to a subpoena obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request. Five other people in his office have received subpoenas to appear in early June and the office has received a subpoena for documents. State Attorney General Chris Carr has received a subpoena to appear June 21.

Trump directed his ire at Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, after the secretary of state refused to bend to pressure to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow presidential election victory in Georgia. On Tuesday, Raffensperger won the Republican primary in his quest for reelection, defeating a Trump-endorsed challenger.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened the investigation soon after she took office in January 2021. She made clear when she requested a special grand jury earlier this year that one purpose for doing so would be to issue subpoenas to people who might not cooperate otherwise.

The 23 members of the special grand jury and three alternates were selected May 2 but Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who’s overseeing the panel, said the grand jurors wouldn’t begin meeting until June.

Willis has confirmed that her investigation includes looking into a January 2021 phone call in which Trump pushed Raffensperger to “find” the votes needed for him to win the state.

Among the documents the grand jury has asked for is anything that “memorializes the events” surrounding that call, anything that “explains the conduct” of the president during that call, and any logs of telephone calls between anyone in Raffensperger’s office and Trump or his representatives.

They also asked for anything showing the results of the audit and hand recount of the results of the 2020 presidential election and a forensic audit of the state’s voting equipment, among other documents.

The other people from the secretary of state’s office summoned to appear are Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer; Ryan Germany, general counsel; Chris Harvey, former head of the elections divisions; Frances Watson, former chief investigator; and Victoria Thompson, a former executive assistant who is now a legislative liaison.

Willis has also said her team is 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.

Trump has said his call with Raffensperger was “perfect” and said he did nothing wrong. Graham has also denied any wrongdoing.

It’s not clear exactly what charges Willis could choose to pursue against Trump or anyone else. In a letter she sent to top-ranking state officials last year, she said she was looking into “potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”

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Trump election probe grand jury to hear from Raffensperger