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District attorney in Georgia asks for a special grand jury for Trump election probe

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In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is weighing whether Donald Trump and others committed crimes by trying to pressure Georgia officials to overturn Joe Biden's presidential election victory.
Ben Gray, AP

In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is weighing whether Donald Trump and others committed crimes by trying to pressure Georgia officials to overturn Joe Biden's presidential election victory.

Updated January 20, 2022 at 3:28 PM ET

The Georgia district attorney investigating whether former President Donald Trump and others attempted to interfere with the 2020 election in the state has asked for a special grand jury for the probe.

In a letter, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said her office has reason to believe "that the State of Georgia's administration of elections in 2020, including the State's election of the President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions."

A special grand jury allows the DA to issue subpoenas. In the letter, Willis says several witnesses or potential witnesses — including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — "have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony."

In January 2021, just days before Congress gathered to certify Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, Trump called Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, and asked him to help overturn Georgia's election results. Biden won Georgia by about 12,000 votes.

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"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," Trump said on the call, which was obtained by Georgia Public Broadcasting. Raffensperger refused Trump's entreaties.

A special grand jury can't issue indictments, but on top of the ability to subpoena, it is granted other investigative powers, like the authority to obtain documents. It can also sit for a longer period of time and focus solely on one case; traditional grand juries in Fulton County typically are impaneled for two months and hear many cases.

The district attorney's request has to be approved by a majority of Fulton County's superior court judges.

In a statement released by his political action committee, Trump repeated his baseless election fraud claims: "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."

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