By Jason Morris, Sara Murray and Paul LeBlanc, CNN
An Atlanta-area district attorney investigating former President Donald Trump‘s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia will be allowed to seat a special grand jury this spring.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis requested last week to seat a special grand jury starting May 2. Fulton County Superior Court judges approved the request on Monday.
Though the special grand jury does not have the authority to issue an indictment, the move will allow Willis to seat a panel entirely focused on gathering evidence in the Trump investigation. She said she needed such a grand jury in order to issue subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify and to gather additional evidence — a step toward pursuing possible criminal charges.
Willis has said she expects to decide on whether to bring charges against Trump in the first half of 2022. She wrote last week that her 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 President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions,” according to a letter sent to Christopher Brasher, chief judge of Fulton County’s Superior Court, and provided by the court.
The Georgia inquiry is just one of several investigations that Trump is fielding a year after leaving office. The former President is also facing the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into the Trump Organization and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office criminal investigation into his namesake company.
Willis has been investigating whether Trump or his allies committed any crimes in their campaign to convince Georgia officials to find fraud and hand Trump a victory in the Peach State. The probe was launched last year following Trump’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger wherein he pushed the Republican to “find” votes to overturn the election results.
“The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry. And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated,” Trump said during the January 2021 call. Raffensperger responded, “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”
In a previous statement repeating his lies about the 2020 election, Trump said, “I didn’t say anything wrong in the call, made while I was President on behalf of the United States of America, to look into the massive voter fraud which took place in Georgia,” while adding that a special grand jury should not be looking into his “perfect phone call.”
Willis said last year that her investigation would expand past Trump’s call with Raffensperger to cover any efforts to influence the election in Georgia.
That included a phone call between Raffensperger and Trump loyalist Sen. Lindsey Graham, the abrupt departure of Byung “BJay” Pak, the US attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and the false allegations of election fraud Rudy Giuliani made before Georgia legislators.
This story has been updated with additional information Monday.
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