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Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s election results

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis poses for a photo at her office on Feb. 24, 2021 in Atlanta. (John Bazemore/AP)
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The Atlanta-area prosecutor weighing whether former president Donald Trump and others committed crimes by trying to pressure Georgia election officials has requested a special purpose grand jury to aid in her investigation.

In a letter Thursday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) told the chief judge of Fulton County’s Superior Court that the move was needed because a “significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony.”

Willis cited Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) as an example. Willis has previously confirmed that part of her probe centers on the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Raffensperger in which Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state’s presidential election.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) requested a special grand jury on Jan. 20 for her probe into Trump's efforts to overturn 2020 election results. (Video: Reuters)

‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor

Willis launched the criminal probe in February. At the time, a Trump spokesman dismissed the investigation, calling it “the Democrats’ latest attempt to score political points by continuing their witch hunt against President Trump.”

Trump responded on Thursday, saying in a statement that “I didn’t say anything wrong in the call” and repeating his false claims of widespread voter fraud.

“What this Civil Special Grand Jury should be looking into is not my perfect phone call, but the large scale voter fraud that took place in Georgia,” he said. “Then they would be doing a great job for the people.”

After falsely saying he won the election, then-President Donald Trump on Dec. 23 urged a top investigator in Georgia's mail-in ballot audit to find wrongdoing. (Video: The Washington Post)

In her letter to Christopher S. Brasher, chief judge of Fulton County’s Superior Court, Willis cited several advantages to impaneling a rarely used special purpose grand jury.

Among them: It could sit for a longer period of time than a normal grand jury and it would focus solely on the matter at hand, which she called “appropriate to the complexity of the facts and circumstances involved.”

Willis noted that the type of grand jury she is requesting would not have the authority to return an indictment but could make recommendations concerning criminal prosecutions.

In an interview earlier this month with the Associated Press, Willis said that her team was making solid progress in its investigation.

“I believe in 2022 a decision will be made in that case,” Willis said. “I certainly think that in the first half of the year that decisions will be made.”

In her letter Thursday, Willis called Raffensperger “an essential witness to the investigation” and said he “has indicated that he will not participate in an interview or otherwise offer evidence until he is presented with a subpoena.”

Willis pointed to comments Raffensperger made during an October interview with Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“If she wants to interview me, there’s a process for that, and I will gladly participate in that because I want to make sure that I follow the law, follow the Constitution,” Raffensperger told Todd. “And when you get a grand jury summons, you respond to it.”

At one point during his call with Raffensperger, Trump told him: “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”