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Special grand jury requested in Fulton County investigation into Donald Trump

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been investigating the former president's efforts to overturn Georgia's 2020 election results.

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — District Attorney Fani Willis has requested a special grand jury in her investigation into former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn Georgia's 2020 election results.

The Fulton County DA told the AP last month she was making progress in her investigation and leaning toward this decision to request a special grand jury.

The move would allow Willis to submit subpoena requests to the special grand jury, unlocking a powerful tool to move the investigation forward.

RELATED: Georgia DA investigating Trump closer to decision on charges

In a letter requesting the special grand jury, Willis said her investigation has run into a "significant number" of uncooperative witnesses.

“We have made efforts to interview multiple witnesses and gather evidence, and a significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony," it says.

11Alive's Doug Richards obtained the letter, which can be seen below:

For the full text of the letter, please go to the bottom of this article

The incident reportedly at the heart of the investigation is a now-infamous call between former President Trump and Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump pressured the secretary to uncover what he insisted was fraud that would overturn Georgia's election results.

"I just want to find 11,780 votes," Trump told Raffensperger on the recorded call. "Which is one more than we have."

Willis said last February, though, that the call is not the only element of her investigation.

"We are investigating issues of anyone that, anyone or any actions that were attempting to influence that November election," Willis said. "So, obviously, it has been reported around the world that phone call. So we have said, 'yes that is part of the investigation.' But we aren't narrowing it to that."  

In citing a lack of cooperation with many witnesses, Willis' letter sent Thursday requesting the special grand jury specifically references Sec. Raffensperger, whom she says "has indicated that he will not participate in an interview or otherwise offer evidence until he is presented with a subpoena by my office."

While Raffensperger does not appear to be a subject of the investigation, the secretary's office has been asked to preserve any records or documents that could be relevant to it. The secretary was appointed a special counsel for legal representation by Gov. Brian Kemp in April 2021 for the investigation.

Credit: Doug Richards/WXIA

Willis said nearly a year ago in a letter to state officials that the investigation could include, but was not limited to, "potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration."

A Brookings Institution report released in October 2021, examining what Georgia laws Trump may have broken, concluded he is at substantial risk of prosecution.

Former DeKalb County District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming co-authored that report.

RELATED: NBC News: Fulton DA may soon convene special Grand Jury to investigate Trump

"Certainly, as we were co-authoring the Brookings report, we did look at all of the available evidence. So you mentioned earlier some of the calls that were made to the governor in addition to the secretary of state, calls that were made to the attorney general, visits by Mark Meadows, and others to Cobb County," Fleming told MSNBC. "We looked at all of the publicly available information. And again, the conclusion we came to is that there may be a substantial risk of prosecution."

Full text of DA Willis' letter requesting special grand jury

Dear Chief Judge Brasher:

I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits. Please be advised that the District Attorney's Office has received information indicating a reasonable probability 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. Our office has also learned that individuals associated with these disruptions have contacted other agencies empowered to investigate this matter, including the Georgia Secretary of State, the Georgia Attorney General, and the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia, leaving this office as the sole agency with jurisdiction that is not a potential witness to conduct related to the matter. As a result, our office has opened an investigation into any coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections in this state.

We have made efforts to interview multiple witnesses and gather evidence, and a significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony. By way of example, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, an essential witness to the investigation, has indicated that he will not participate in an interview or otherwise offer evidence until he is presented with a subpoena by my office. Please see Exhibit A, attached to this letter.

Therefore, I am hereby requesting, as the elected District Attorney for Fulton County, pursuant to O.C.G.A § 15-12-100 et. seq., that a special purpose grand jury be impaneled for the purpose of investigating the facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to possible attempts to disrupt the lawful administration of the 2020 elections in the State of Georgia. Specifically, a special purpose grand jury, which will not have the authority to return an indictment but may make recommendations concerning criminal prosecution as it shall see fit, is needed for three reasons: first, a special purpose grand jury can be impaneled by the Court for any time period required in order to accomplish its investigation, which will likely exceed a normal grand jury term; second, the special purpose grand jury would be empowered to review this matter and this matter only, with an investigatory focus appropriate to the complexity of the facts and circumstances involved; and third, the sitting grand jury would not be required to attempt to address this matter in addition to their normal duties.

Additionally, I am requesting that, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-12-101, a Fulton County Superior Court Judge be assigned to assist and supervise the special purpose grand jury in carrying out its investigation and duties.

I have attached a proposed order impaneling the special purpose grand jury for the consideration of the Court.

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