ATLANTA (AP) — When potential grand jurors appear in Atlanta courthouse on Monday, they will find a television camera in the room and the streets closed outside — gestures to the intense public interest in Investigation on whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to pressure Georgia officials to reverse Joe Biden’s victory in the state’s presidential election.
The Fulton County District Attorney, Fanny Willis, has taken the unusual step of Special grand jury request To investigate, that committee’s selection begins on Monday.
Seating a grand jury—even a rare private grand jury—is a routine process that is of little interest to the public at large. But the desire to receive any news of this case prompted the Court to make the facility to broadcast at least parts of the grand jury’s selection to the public. Although there will be cameras in the room, they will not be allowed to show potential grand jurors.
An investigation into possible attempts to influence the 2020 general election in Georgia began early last year. Willis asked the county supreme court chief in January to appoint a special grand jury. In a letter, she wrote that her office had information indicating a “reasonable possibility” of “possible criminal disturbances” in the administration of that election.
Says the chief judge’s order Special grand jury It sits for up to a year, starting on Monday. Unlike a grand jury, which hears many different cases and can issue indictments, a private grand jury focuses on investigating a single topic and issues a report on its findings. Then the attorney general decides whether to request an indictment from a regular grand jury.
The process for appointing a special grand jury is very similar to appointing a regular grand jury, said Danny Porter, the former Gwinnett County District Attorney who formed a special grand jury nearly 15 years ago. It is made up of between 16 and 23 people called from the county’s main jury list.
The judge will make sure that potential jurors are eligible — over 18, who are residents of Fulton County and have not been convicted of a felony — and then he will hear people who want an exemption for one reason or another.
Unlike jury selection for trial, where there are two sets of attorneys trying to discover biases and prejudices, there is no defense attorney in the process because no one has been charged yet. No one pursuing surveillance should expect to hear potential jurors being widely questioned about their political leanings or their views on Trump.
“There are no excuses for bias or prejudice,” Porter said. “In this case, I suspect if someone came in wearing a MAGA hat, they would probably excuse them. But the investigation of their biases or prejudices is very limited in selecting a grand jury.”
Once the special grand jury is seated, the cameras will have to leave – all grand jury proceedings are confidential. But Willis explained in her letter to the chief justice that one of the reasons she wanted a grand jury was to issue subpoenas to witnesses who refused to cooperate without one present.
Willis confirmed that her team is looking into a file Phone call in January 2021 Trump pushed Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Ravensberger to “create” the votes needed for him to win the state. She also said they’re looking into a file November 2020 phone call Between US Senator Lindsey Graham and Ravensberger sudden resignation The US Attorney General in Atlanta on January 4, 2021, and comments made during the December 2020 Georgia Legislative Committee hearings regarding the election.
A Trump spokesman earlier dismissed the investigation as a politically motivated “witch hunt”. Graham also denied any wrongdoing.
In a separate investigation in New York, Trump is Appeal judgments Subpoena imposed over his testimony and detention in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents in a civilian investigation The state attorney’s office says it has uncovered evidence that it may have miscalculated the value of skyscrapers and other assets for more than a decade.
Trump’s lawyers argue that Attorney General Letitia James is using the civil investigation to gather information that can then be used against the former president in a parallel criminal investigation overseen by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. James and Bragg are both Democrats.
Bragg says the criminal investigation continues despite the change in leadership of the investigation. So far, this has only resulted in fringe benefit tax fraud charges against the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Author Michael R. Sisak for the Associated Press in New York contributed to this report.