ATLANTA (CN) — A Georgia judge on Thursday released parts of the final report produced by a special purpose grand jury seated last year as part of an investigation into potential criminal interference with the state's 2020 elections by former President Donald Trump and several of his allies.
A majority of the jurors said they believe one or more witnesses who testified before them should be charged with perjury. They also found unanimously that no widespread fraud took place that would change the results of the 2020 presidential election in the Peach State.
After a coalition of news organizations pressed for immediate release of the findings, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney on Monday ordered prosecutors to release the report's introduction and conclusion, as well as a section in which jurors expressed concerns that some witnesses may have lied on the stand. The judge cited the “compelling public interest in these proceedings and the unquestionable value and importance of transparency.”
However, the names of those witnesses and any recommendations for charges will not be released until after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis completes her investigation to protect the rights of any potential defendants.
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.
"We find by a unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election," the jurors wrote.
The portions of the report released Thursday do not reveal new information about the investigation but do suggest some witnesses may have lied under oath.
“A majority of the grand jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it. The grand jury recommends that the district attorney seeks appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling,” the report states.
Witnesses who were known to be subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury include several of Trump's former attorneys and top advisers, state Republican officials as well as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who were both repeatedly attacked publicly by Trump for refusing to overturn the state's election results.
According to the introduction of the report, the jurors were instructed to provide a “yea, nay or abstain” vote to specific topics. They also recommended that their report be made public but did not include a specific time or manner of publication.
“If this report fails to include any potential violations of reference statutes that were shown in the investigation, we acknowledge the discretion of the district attorney to seek indictments where she finds sufficient cause,” the conclusion states. “Furthermore, this grand jury contained no election law experts or criminal lawyers. The majority of this grand jury used their collective best efforts, however, to attend every session, listen to every witness, and attempt to understand the facts as presented and the laws as explained.”
McBurney has instructed the DA’s office to give the court periodic updates on the progress of the investigation so the judge can reassess when other portions of the report may be released.
If Willis decides to pursue any charges, her case will be presented to a regular grand jury, which has the power to issue criminal indictments.
Potential felony charges include conspiracy to commit election fraud, violation of oath by a public officer, interference with primaries and elections, and interference with performance of election duties, while possible misdemeanors include making false statements and destroying, defacing or removing ballots.
In court filings, Willis has described the probe as an examination of “multi-state, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 elections in Georgia and elsewhere," implying that she is likely to use Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act to prosecute the case. The RICO Act has been used in the state to target enterprises engaged in patterns of criminal conduct.
According to court documents and attorney statements, at least 18 people have been notified they are targets of the investigation, including Rudy Giuliani, who was Trump's attorney at the time, for allegedly purporting evidence of election fraud to Georgia legislators in December 2020.
Other known targets include David Shafer, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, and the 11 fake GOP electors that he helped enlist to falsely certify that Trump had won the vote in several states that he had actually lost.
Findings in the House Jan. 6 committee's report released last December indicate that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who reportedly traveled to Georgia to pressure election officials, and John Eastman, who solicited state officials and organized the fake elector scheme, are the most likely to face charges.
While Trump has called the probe a "witch hunt," Willis’ office has not said whether the former president is a target and he was not subpoenaed to testify or appear voluntarily before the special grand jury.
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