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Atlanta prosecutor to announce indictments this summer in Trump election interference probe

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told law enforcement agencies to prepare for possible public uproar when she announces any criminal charges.

ATLANTA (CN) — The prosecutor leading the investigation into whether former President Donald Trump and his allies illegally interfered with Georgia's 2020 election said Monday that she will announce any possible criminal indictments this summer.

In a letter to Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat, District Attorney Fani Willis revealed that she expects to announce her charging decisions sometime between July 11 and Sept. 1. She asked that Labat make preparations for “heightened security and preparedness” with state and federal law enforcement agencies, because she predicts her announcement may provoke a significant public reaction.”

“We have seen in recent years that some may go outside of public expressions of opinion that are protected by the First Amendment to engage in acts of violence that will endanger the safety of those we are sworn to protect,” Willis wrote. “As leaders, it is incumbent upon us to prepare.”

Similar letters were also delivered to Darin Schierbaum, Atlanta’s chief of police, and Matthew Kallmyer, director of the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

After pleading not guilty in New York to a 34-count indictment for alleged hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, Trump has used the charges against him as a catalyst for his 2024 campaign to portray himself as a victim of a politically motivated criminal justice system. When he called for mass demonstrations from his supporters against overreach from prosecutors, it sparked concerns of violent unrest.

However, fears of another Jan. 6 riot ultimately did not transpire following his arraignment earlier this month, as New York Police had anticipated. Authorities issued a stand-ready order for nearly 35,000 officers, shut down streets and erected barricades around the courthouse.

While hundreds of people from protesters to supporters, journalists and some politicians, did stand outside to watch history unfold as Trump became the first former or sitting president to face criminal charges — no riots or acts of violence emerged from the mass crowd.

Willis' letter signals that she is unpersuaded by a motion filed last month by Trump's legal counsel seeking to toss out the final report of the special grand jury that was seated to aide in the investigation. They also asked the court to remove Willis from the case and disqualify her from continuing to prosecute Trump. 

Attorneys Jennifer Little and Drew Findling wrote in the filing that the special grand jury “involved a constant lack of clarity as to the law, inconsistent applications of basic constitutional protections for individuals being brought before it, and a prosecutor’s office that was found to have an actual conflict, yet continued to pursue the investigation.”

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ordered Willis to respond to the motion by May 1.

“On behalf of President Trump, we filed a substantive legal challenge for which the D.A.’s Office has yet to respond,” the attorneys said in a statement to the Associated Press on Monday.

“We look forward to litigating that comprehensive motion which challenges the deeply flawed legal process and the ability of the conflicted D.A’s Office to make any charging decisions at all.”

McBurney granted a partial release of the special grand jury's report in February, which revealed that the jurors unanimously found no evidence that widespread voter fraud took place in Georgia's election, and also believed one or more witnesses lied during their testimony.

Between June and December 2022, the 23-member special grand jury heard testimony from 75 witnesses, including poll workers, investigators, technical experts, and state employees and officials, as well as from "persons still claiming that such fraud took place," according to the report.

After their dissolution, the special grand jury's foreperson, Emily Kohrs, disclosed in multiple interviews with news organizations that their recommendations for indictments is "not a short list."

At least 18 people close to Trump have been notified they are targets of the investigation according to court documents, including Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuliani, David Shafer, who is chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, as well as 11 fake GOP electors that falsely certified that Trump had won the vote in several states that he had actually lost.

However, it remains unclear whether Trump himself will be indicted, as he was never subpoenaed to testify before the special grand jury, even though the probe largely stemmed from the notorious phone call he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger following the 2020 election, urging him to "find" 11,789 votes needed to overturn his presidential loss in the Peach State.

Trump also faces potential criminal indictments out of Washington D.C. where federal grand juries are investigating his alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving the White House, as well as his efforts to overturn Joe Biden's presidential win in the 2020 election. Both probes launched by the U.S. Department of Justice are being overseen by an appointed special counsel.

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Categories / Criminal, Law, National, Politics

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