Georgia prosecutors considering racketeering and conspiracy charges in probe of effort to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss, source says
By Don Lemon and Jason Morris, CNN
Atlanta-area prosecutors are considering bringing racketeering and conspiracy charges in connection with Donald Trump‘s effort to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Investigators have a large volume of substantial evidence related to a possible conspiracy from inside and outside the state, including recordings of phone calls, emails, text messages, documents, and testimony before a special grand jury.
Their work, the source said, underscores the belief that the push to help Trump was not just a grassroots effort that originated inside the state.
The special grand jury met for roughly seven months in Atlanta and heard testimony from 75 witnesses, including some of Trump’s closest advisers from his final weeks in the White House. It recommended issuing multiple indictments in their final report, according to the jury foreperson who spoke out in a media blitz.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis could make decisions on charges this spring, the source said. Willis will bring her charging recommendations to the regularly seated grand juries, who each serve two-month terms. Two regular Fulton County grand juries were seated in early March, and the next batch of two are scheduled to be sworn-in early May.
Investigators have at least three recordings of Trump pressuring Georgia officials, including a phone call that he made to the Georgia House speaker to push for a special session to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state.
There is also a recording of Trump’s call to a top investigator with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office in December 2020, while they were looking into quashed allegations of irregularities with signature-matching in Cobb County in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Willis kicked off her investigation in early 2021, soon after the infamous January phone call became public in which Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the votes necessary for Trump to win Georgia’s electoral votes.
The Fulton County probe expanded beyond the Trump phone calls to include false claims of election fraud to state lawmakers, the fake elector scheme, efforts by unauthorized individuals to access voting machines in one Georgia county and threats and harassment against election workers.
Willis previously said their far-reaching investigation included potential “solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”
Willis’ office declined to comment for this story.
The investigation also included presentations that former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani made before state lawmakers that were riddled with election falsehoods; a phone call between South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger; and the sudden departure of Byung “BJay” Pak, the US attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.
A potential indictment of Trump in New York is not affecting the pace of charging decisions in the Georgia case, a person familiar with the matter tells CNN, though Willis’ office is closely watching how the security situation there plays out in case it needs to make arrangements in Georgia.
Willis: ‘I’m a fan of RICO’
Racketeering charges, sometimes used in gang-related activity, allow prosecutors to bring charges against multiple defendants. Willis could use the law to try to make the case that Trump and his allies were part of a criminal enterprise in their various efforts to pressure state officials, put forth fake electors and otherwise try to influence the election.
“The reason that I am a fan of RICO is, I think jurors are very, very intelligent,” Willis said at a news conference about a broad gang-related indictment over the summer of 2022. “They want to know what happened. They want to make an accurate decision about someone’s life. And so RICO is a tool that allows a prosecutor’s office and law enforcement to tell the whole story.”
John Floyd, a lawyer with deep expertise in racketeering cases, is assisting Fulton County on multiple cases, including Willis gang indictment against the rapper Young Thug, where she is currently using the RICO Act and introducing song lyrics as evidence.
Trump, who has launched his 2024 campaign for the White House, denies any criminal wrongdoing. He has claimed that Willis, a Democrat, is politically biased, and still regularly promotes the false claim that he won the election in Georgia.
The former President’s Georgia legal team — Drew Findling, Jennifer Little, and Marisa Goldberg — previously wrote in a January statement that because he was never subpoenaed or asked to appear before the grand jury voluntarily, “we can assume that the grand jury did their job and looked at the facts and the law, as we have, and concluded there were no violations of the law by President Trump.”
A Fulton County judge approved the district attorney’s request to document testimony by all 75 witnesses who appeared before the special grand jury, so the full record of transcripts could become public record, according to a source familiar with the investigation. Although, timing details of when this treasure trove of information could be released is still unclear.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently spoke anonymously with five of the jurors who served on the special grand jury. “A lot’s gonna come out sooner or later,” one of the jurors said. “And it’s gonna be massive. It’s gonna be massive.”
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.
CNN’s Sara Murray contributed to this report.