Georgia DA May Assemble Grand Jury to Aide Trump Probe, Expects Charging Decision in 2022

A Georgia district attorney investigating former President Donald Trump and his pressuring of state officials to overturn President Joe Biden's election victory may assemble a grand jury with the power to subpoena.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told the Associated Press in an interview that her team is making good progress and expects to make a decision on whether to charge the former president in the first half of the year.

"I believe in 2022 a decision will be made in that case," Willis said. "I certainly think that in the first half of the year that decisions will be made."

Willis has a team with fewer than 10 people whose main focus lies with the Trump probe. The lawyers, investigators and one legal assistant can consult other lawyers who have certain expertise in some areas of law, she told AP.

Despite her belief that they'll reach a decision on charges in the first half of 2022, Willis said that her team is not limited by any deadlines and has the freedom to be thorough as they investigate the case.

"We're going to just get the facts, get the law, be very methodical, very patient and, in some extent, unemotional about this quest for justice," she said.

As for a grand jury, Willis said that she hasn't decided yet if she'll ask the chief judge of the Fulton County Superior Court to assemble such a panel. She noted that a special grand jury could help spur unwilling people to testify with subpoenas so that her team wouldn't have to rely solely on evidence and witnesses who speak willingly for a potential indictment.

"I like investigations to be complete and so we probably would move in the direction of a special grand jury," she said.

Georgia DA Investigation
The prosecutor weighing whether Donald Trump and others committed crimes by trying to pressure Georgia officials to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election victory said a decision on whether to bring charges could come as early as the first half of this year. Above, Fulton County Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis photographed in her office on January 4, 2022. Ben Gray/AP Photo

Willis declined to speak about the specifics, but she confirmed that the investigation's scope includes—but is not limited to—a January 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a November 2020 phone call between Senator Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger, the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta on January 4, 2021, and comments made during December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election.

Willis is not alone in investigating attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn his 2020 election defeat. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee released a report in October based on a review of documents and interviews with former officials. And a U.S. House committee is preparing to release the findings of its investigation of the deadly riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, which included conversations with election officials who were pressured by the former president. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said the Justice Department "will follow the facts wherever they lead."

Willis' inquiry also is not the only state criminal investigation involving Trump. New York prosecutors have subpoenaed Trump and his two eldest children in their investigation of his business dealings.

A Trump spokesman dismissed the Fulton investigation as a politically motivated "witch hunt" when it became public last February, after Willis instructed Georgia's top elected officials to preserve any records related to the general election, particularly any evidence of attempts to influence election officials.

The probe includes "potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration," the letters said.

As she has before, Willis said she won't be rushed or influenced by the intense public interest in this case.

"I just think the public should be patient—you know, go on, lead your lives—trust that they've elected a district attorney that knows that this is a serious issue, takes it seriously and we're doing our job here," she said.

Since his loss, Trump has made repeated unproven claims that widespread fraud cost him the election. Some of his supporters have targeted election officials and workers, in Georgia and across the country, making violent threats against them.

Willis, a Democrat, said people unhappy that she's considering possible criminal charges against the Republican former president have made threats and "expressed their frustration in a way that is so irrational that I believe that they would do me harm."

Previously a prosecutor for 17 years in the office she now leads, Willis said threats are not new for her.

"They are truly wasting their time. It is not going to deter me from doing my job, period," she said. "I'm not going to do any less or more because, you know, you try to offend me because I'm Black or female or of a political party. We were elected to do a job and that's what I'm going to sit here and do."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Georgia Trump Investigation
A Georgia district attorney investigating former President Donald Trump and his pressuring of state officials to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory may assemble a grand jury with the power to subpoena. Above, Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on October 9, 2021, in Des Moines. Scott Olson/Getty Images