Georgia Judge Approves DA's Special Grand Jury Request for Trump Election Interference Probe
21:28 GMT 24.01.2022 (Updated: 22:25 GMT 24.01.2022)
A Georgia judge has approved Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' request for a special grand jury to investigate allegations of election interference by Donald Trump following his 2020 loss in the US presidential election.
The request was submitted last week and approved by Christopher S. Brasher, Chief Judge of the Superior Court of Fulton County, on Monday, January 24, 2022.
The special grand jury will allow the DA to gather evidence and compel witnesses to testify in their investigation into claims that Trump attempted to overturn the 2020 US presidential election results in Georgia. The investigation will be supervised by the Honorable Robert C.I. McBurney.
Willis wrote in her request for the approval of a special grand jury that her office, "received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia's administration of elections in 2020, including the State's election of President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions."
The need for a special grand jury was deemed necessary due to witnesses and evidence being hard to come by without the powers of the court, according to Willis.
"We have made efforts to interview multiple witnesses and gather evidence, and a significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony," she wrote in her letter to the court.
The investigation began when an audio recording of Trump asking Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find the votes necessary to flip the state from Joe Biden was revealed.
Trump has defended the phone conversation, saying, "I didn't say anything wrong in the call, made while I was President on behalf of the United States of America, to look into the massive voter fraud which took place in Georgia," he would later refer to it as a "perfect phone call."
Clark D. Cunningham, a Georgia State law professor, suggested that the decision is "extremely significant."
A special grand jury provides investigators unique investigative powers that "no other entity in the country has right now in relation to this issue," according to Cunningham.
Willis will have the power to issue subpoenas to individuals inside and outside the state of Georgia as well.
Willis' subpoena power could yield better results than those carrying out the congressional investigation. "The fact that this is a criminal investigation may give it a much higher priority than, for example, the work of the congressional January 6 committee," Cunningham suggested.
The investigation is likely to begin May 2022 and is expected to not last longer than 12 months.