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Georgia GOP chairman says he was just following orders from Trump lawyers

<i>Nathan Posner/Shutterstock</i><br/>Lawyers representing David Shafer
Nathan Posner/Shutterstock
Nathan Posner/Shutterstock
Lawyers representing David Shafer

By Zachary Cohen and Sara Murray, CNN

Lawyers representing David Shafer, the embattled chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, are arguing their client should not be charged with any crimes for his actions following the 2020 election because he was following advice provided by attorneys working for former President Donald Trump, according to a letter sent to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis last week.

Specifically, Shafer’s attorneys say their client was relying on “repeated and detailed advice of legal counsel” when he organized a group of “contingent” electors from Georgia and served as one himself, thus “eliminating any possibility of criminal intent or liability,” according to a copy of the May 5 letter.

The letter, which was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, comes as Willis and her team of prosecutors investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia are planning to make an announcement on possible charges against Trump or his allies later this summer.

Shafer, who sources previously told CNN could be among those indicted when Willis makes her charging announcements, has come under scrutiny for his role in the effort to put forward alternate slates of electors to block the certification of the 2020 presidential vote.

In their letter to Willis’s office, Shafer’s lawyers say he was “given very direct, detailed legal advice on the procedure he should follow, and he followed those instructions to the letter.”

“I believe that any fair-minded person, with possession of all the facts, would conclude that Mr. Shafer and the other presidential elector nominees acted lawfully and appropriately,” the letter adds.

The district attorney’s office declined to comment.

Willis has indicated she is seriously weighing bringing racketeering and conspiracy charges in connection with Trump’s actions in the Peach State around the 2020 election.

At least eight of the Republican “fake electors” in Georgia have accepted immunity deals in the ongoing criminal investigation, according to a court filing last week, and the newly secured cooperators could offer insights into a key prong of Willis’ sprawling investigation into election interference.

Willis had previously notified all 16 GOP fake electors in Georgia that they were targets in her investigation.

Other Republicans who served as pro-Trump electors, including Shafer, could still face legal exposure in her investigation, according to people familiar with the matter.

Willis kicked off her sprawling investigation in early 2021 shortly after she took office, and 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.

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 legislative session to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state.

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.

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