ATLANTA — Top Atlanta prosecutor Fani Willis told high-ranking county officials on Thursday that much of her staff would work remotely in the first half of August and requested that county judges not hear trials during part of that period.
The letter makes no outright mention of former President Donald Trump, but the move fuels speculation that August is when a Fulton County grand jury could reveal if Trump and his allies will be charged as part of the 2020 Georgia election investigation.
In a letter sent to Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville, Willis said that roughly 70% of her staff would work remotely on July 31, Aug. 1, Aug. 7, Aug. 8, Aug. 10, Aug. 11, Aug. 14, Aug. 15, Aug. 17, and Aug. 18.
Willis also requested that judges not schedule trials or in-person hearings from Aug. 7 to Aug. 14. If hearings take place during that week, members of Willis’ senior leadership will handle the proceedings.
“Note that during this period my leadership team, all armed investigators, my Case Intake Division, and personnel at the Juvenile Court building will be working every day, including the scheduled partial remote workdays,” Willis wrote. “During this three-week period, on days other than those listed above, all members of my staff will be present as usual.”
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment for this story.
Willis previously told 11Alive that July 17 is the earliest a Fulton County grand jury could hear evidence related to the Trump investigation. In a previous letter to Atlanta law enforcement, Willis said potential indictments of Trump and others would come before Sept. 1.
This week’s letter, first reported by the The New York Times, seems to offer a more narrow timeline. The letter was sent to 21 Fulton County officials.
Anthony Kreis, a professor at Georgia State University's College of Law who has closely followed the Trump probe, told 11Alive that Willis' move is "highly unusual."
"Announcing reduced in-office scheduling on grand jury days is ... (an) incredibly specific move that signals the DA's office plans on presenting evidence to the regular grand jury in time for potential indictments in August," Kreis said. "Between this and Willis' earlier letter to law enforcement asking them to be on heightened alert over the summer, the probability of major indictments coming down seems high."
Willis’ move comes as a Fulton County judge weighs a motion from Trump and one of his allies seeking to derail the case before it begins.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney on Friday rejected a motion from Trump's attorneys seeking 21 days to respond to a filing Willis made earlier this week.
In a separate filing, a group of former and state prosecutors filed a motion opposing Trump's attempt to gut the election investigation.
The probe began shortly after Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, and asked the state’s top election official to “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s outcome.
Fulton County Superior Court judges voted in January 2022 to impanel the special purpose grand jury at Willis' request. In May 2022, the jurors were sworn in, and the jury completed its work in January 2023.
Jurors heard from 75 witnesses during the roughly eight-month probe. The final report remains mostly secret, but the document recommends indictments for more than a dozen people, jury foreperson Emily Kohrs told media outlets earlier this year.
The special purpose grand jury lacked the power to issue indictments. To seek charges, Willis has to take the case before a regular grand jury.
This is a developing story. Check back often for new information.
Also download the 11Alive News app and sign up to receive alerts for the latest on this story and other breaking news in Atlanta and north Georgia.