An Atlanta-area prosecutor’s investigation into former President Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 Georgia election defeat poses the biggest legal threat to the former president, legal experts say, as the investigation intensifies as Trump makes a bid for the white house envisaged in 2024.
The former president’s team is closely monitoring Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s investigation, though it remains unclear whether Trump himself would be charged, according to a source, who noted that subpoenas were recently issued to target Trump adviser Rudy Closing Giuliani and Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) had heightened concerns in Trump World.
“The steps her office has taken, including the appointment of a special grand jury and the subpoena of high-profile witnesses, are most likely not steps she would have taken had she not felt there was at least a significant possibility that she charges will be filed. said Noah Bookbinder, President of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
“The stakes in holding Trump accountable for an attack on our democratic system of government could not be higher, and the evidence is extremely compelling.”
Trump’s attempt to evade the will of voters in Georgia and a handful of other swing states, which he lost to President Biden in the 2020 election, sparked investigations by Congress and was the subject of multiple criminal investigations, including by the Department of Justice (DOJ ).
But it’s the Georgia investigation that’s proving to be a more immediate concern for Trump allies — even more so than the DOJ investigation, the work of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, or any not related criminal fraud investigation in New York that is likely to be completed without charges being filed against Trump.
“With the Manhattan criminal investigation being closed, the Fulton County investigation represents the clearest criminal exposure Mr. Trump faces,” said Bradley Moss, national security attorney and partner in the law firm of Mark S. Zaid.
The investigation in Georgia appears to be intensifying as Trump considers launching a White House campaign later this summer.
The grand jury recently issued subpoenas against several high-profile figures, including Graham and Giuliani, as well as conservative attorneys John Eastman, Jenna Ellis and Cleta Mitchell. And Willis’ office recently informed a group of Republicans serving as a false list of pro-Trump electors in 2020 that they could be prosecuted.
The Jan. 6 panel also made Trump’s efforts in Georgia the subject of one of its hearings last month. The focus was on Trump’s phone call with Georgia’s Foreign Minister Brad Raffensperger on January 2, 2021.
In the call, which was recorded, Trump urged Raffensperger to “find” the number of votes needed to topple Biden’s lead. Raffensperger has opposed Trump’s efforts and refuted his false claims of voter fraud.
The Jan. 6 panel hearing highlighted not only how Trump relentlessly pushed Raffensperger and others to find enough ballots to declare him the winner, but also how the former president and his allies targeted campaign workers who spent months as a result were bullied.
According to legal experts, a critical question Willis would ask when prosecuting Trump would be whether to prosecute Trump individually or as part of a broader conspiracy.
“There’s audio, there’s testimony, there’s documentation, and it’s all before a special grand jury right now. The only question is whether Mr. Trump’s actions were sufficient to establish a criminal charge against him alone and independently of anyone else, or whether the Fulton County Attorney must incorporate his fragmented actions into a broader conspiracy charge involving individuals how Mr. Giuliani is connected and the wrong voters,” Moss said.
It has been speculated that formally declaring his candidacy could shield Trump from charges and additional investigations because he could argue they are politically motivated. Trump, who has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, has also dismissed claims that another White House run could be motivated to deter prosecutors.
In a recent interview with New York Magazine, Trump dismissed the idea that he would run for president again to protect himself from potential legal jeopardy.
“Well, I didn’t do anything wrong, so I don’t see that,” Trump told the outlet. “I did absolutely nothing wrong. I had a perfect phone call in Georgia so I’m not worried.”
If the Jan. 6 House Committee, which concluded the first phase of its public hearings this week, makes a criminal referral to the DOJ to indict Trump, it would put Attorney General Merrick Garland under tremendous pressure.
But experts said the Georgia investigation differs in key ways from the federal investigation, which could make the Fulton County prosecutor more likely to file criminal charges against Trump as Garland.
For Garland, the decision to criminally indict Trump over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results pits his mission to restore the DOJ’s reputation as a non-political authority against the certainty that the indictment of a former president will be the first in the history of the United States US would inevitably plunge the DOJ into the political realm. Though the political ramifications are hard to overstate, Willis’s decision on whether to pursue charges against Trump is less strained than Garland’s.
“There are real dilemmas and obstacles for Garland as he considers prosecuting a former president, although I think the evidence is so overwhelming and the crimes so serious that they should override these very real concerns, but it will undoubtedly be a tough decision-making process,” Bookbinder said.
“Willis faces some of the same concerns – the impeachment of a former president should not be taken lightly in any jurisdiction – and I’m sure she will take them very seriously, but the balance of stocks pushing it, everyone Case to back up with facts and facts The law could be clearer there.”