Court Approves Special Grand Jury in Trump Election Inquiry

A Georgia district attorney’s request to convene a special grand jury was approved Monday in the criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state.

Fani T. Willis, an Atlanta prosecutor, requested the grand jury last week after crucial witnesses identified by investigators refused to cooperate voluntarily. Assembling a grand jury — which could issue subpoenas — is the next step in an inquiry that legal experts see as potentially threatening for the former president.

“The special purpose grand jury shall be authorized to investigate any and all facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to alleged violations of the laws of the State of Georgia,” stated the approval order, signed by Christopher S. Brasher, the chief judge of the Fulton County Superior Court.

The grand jury would start its work on May 2 and continue “for a period not to exceed 12 months,” the order said.

Legal experts have been watching the Georgia case for months, and say that the former president’s criminal exposure could include charges of racketeering or conspiracy. It is the only known criminal case that focuses directly on Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.

Politically, the case takes place in a state that played a pivotal role in President Biden’s path to the White House. Mr. Biden became the first Democrat since 1992 to win Georgia’s electoral votes in 2020. The actions of Mr. Trump and his allies during the two-month period that followed Mr. Biden’s victory has been the focus of Ms. Willis’s criminal investigation.

After Mr. Trump’s election loss — and before Georgia held two Senate elections in January — Mr. Trump began to publicly dispute the results of the election in states he lost, including Georgia. On Jan. 2, he called Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, and asked him to “find 11,780 votes” — the margin by which Mr. Trump lost the state.

The call kicked off a firestorm that continues to have political and legal ramifications. Mr. Trump, who remains the most influential figure in the Republican Party and is a likely candidate for president in 2024, has previously stated that his call with Mr. Raffensperger was “perfect.”

The former president has stared down legal troubles before, including investigations into his businesses and finances, and is the only president to have been impeached twice. He has previously dismissed other investigations as politically motivated. Ms. Willis, the Atlanta prosecutor, is a Democrat

The Georgia case is one of several criminal, civil and congressional investigations focused on Mr. Trump. A Democrat-led Congressional inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol recently won a Supreme Court victory, which will allow it to obtain White House records.

There are two major investigations underway in New York. One is a criminal inquiry from the Manhattan district attorney into Mr. Trump’s financial dealings. The other is at the state level: Attorney General Letitia James is leading a civil fraud investigation into Mr. Trump’s business practices. Ms. James recently issued subpoenas for interviews with two of Mr. Trump’s adult children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and her office had previously interviewed a third, Eric Trump.

Representatives for Mr. Trump did not reply to a request for comment.

In Georgia, if Ms. Willis were to win a conviction, it would have to survive review by the state’s appellate courts. The courts are controlled by Republican appointees.

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