Trump claims ‘total exoneration,’ special grand jury recommends perjury charges

Former president continues to maintain he did nothing wrong, defends ‘two perfect phone calls regarding election integrity in Georgia’
The report also said the special grand jury unanimously found no evidence of any widespread fraud in the election.
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 9:30 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2023 at 8:43 AM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A special Fulton County grand jury report into alleged interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election by then-President Donald Trump was partially released Thursday, with the majority of the grand jury believing one or more of the witnesses perjured themselves.

The report also said the special grand jury unanimously found no evidence of any widespread fraud in the election, and recommended Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis seek the “appropriate indictments” for the unnamed perjuries.

Late Thursday afternoon, the former president issued this statement on his social media platform, TruthSocial:

Earlier in the day, Trump’s presidential campaign issued this statement:

“The long awaited important sections of the Georgia report, which do not even mention President Trump’s name, have nothing to do with the President because President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong. The President participated in two perfect phone calls regarding election integrity in Georgia, which he is entitled to do - in fact, as President, it was President Trump’s Constitutional duty to ensure election safety, security, and integrity. Between the two calls, there were many officials and attorneys on the line, including the Secretary of State of Georgia, and no one objected, even slightly protested, or hung up. President Trump will always keep fighting for true and honest elections in America!”

Last year, Willis opened a criminal investigation “into attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia General Election.” Willis continues alleging Trump attempted to interfere in Georgia’s election, an election that saw Joe Biden become the first Democrat to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.

A special grand jury with subpoena power was seated in May 2022 at Willis’ request. In court filings, she alleged “a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”

“The Grand Jury heard extensive testimony on the subject oft alleged election fraud from poll workers, investigators, technical experts, and State of Georgia employees and officials, as well as from persons still claiming that such fraud took place,” Thursday’s partial release of the grand jury report said. “We find by unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election.”

A highly anticipated special grand jury report reviewing attempts to influence Georgia’s 2020 election results is scheduled for release on Thursday, but not the

Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, issued a statement immediately after the report’s release, commending “the Fulton County District Attorney’s office and the courageous jurors who have undertaken the patriotic task of holding these traitors accountable for their actions.

“After years of lies and misinformation, our nation is closer to uncovering the truth behind a collective of treasonous attempts to subvert our election and undermine our democracy in favor of advancing Donald Trump to the White House,” Johnson said. “From the very beginning of his campaign, Trump and his co-conspirators waged war against Black voters, spreading baseless claims and promoting racist narratives in an attempt to disenfranchise and silence them.”

Jen Jordan, a former metro Atlanta state senator, also testified before the special grand jury. The former Democratic Attorney General candidate believes Rudy Guiliani, the legendary former New York City mayor who is now a Trump attorney, will be indicted by a future Fulton County grand jury.

“What is to come is going to very specific, it’s going to name names and it’s going to point fingers,” Jordan said. “It’s going to be compelling and it’s going to be a bombshell.”

Earlier this week, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney decided to release only portions of the grand jury’s findings. Atlanta News First had requested, along with other media organizations, the grand jury’s full report to be made public. Willis had appealed to McBurney to keep the findings closed, but once McBurney’s decision was announced, Willis said she would not appeal his decision.

Willis said the grand jury heard from 75 witnesses. Some of the more notable figures were Gov. Brian Kemp; Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr; Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; former lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan; former White House official Mark Meadows; former U.S. House speaker and Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich; and Republican South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Trump has accused Willis of conducting a “strictly political witch hunt.” Trump, who announced his 2024 White House candidacy last November, also continues defending his now-famous phone call with Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021.

Read: Full transcript of Donald Trump’s call to Brad Raffensperger

Last June, Raffensperger told a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that Trump’s claims of 2020 election fraud “were false.”

Raffensperger, along with Gabriel Sterling, the office’s chief operating officer, appeared before the Democrat-led House Select Committee’s nationally televised public hearings.

Raffensperger told the committee the Nov. 6, 2020, election went “remarkably smooth,” with average ballot-casting wait times between two to three minutes statewide. “I felt we had a successful election,” he said.

Thursday’s release included the report’s introduction and conclusion but redacted portions that recommend charges for individuals who did and didn’t testify before grand jurors.

“There was very limited due process in this process for those who might now be named as indictment worthy in the final report,” McBurney wrote in his order, citing subpoenaed witnesses’ inability to have lawyers present during questioning or to present evidence on their own behalf.

“That does not mean that the District Attorney’s investigative process was flawed or improper or in any way unconstitutional,” McBurney continued. “By all appearances, the special purpose grand jury did its work by the book. The problem here, in discussing public disclosure, is that that book’s rules do not allow for the objects of the District Attorney’s attention to be heard in the manner we require in a court of law.”

In a footnote, McBurney noted every witness had the ability to pause proceedings and consult with their attorneys outside the grand jury room, or have their lawyers elevate concerns to the supervising judge, but that it was a “poor and insufficient proxy for the right to have counsel present in the grand jury room.”

“This special purpose grand jury investigation was, appropriately, largely controlled by the District Attorney,” he wrote. “She and her team decided who would be subpoenaed, when they would appear, what questions would be asked, and what aspects of the general election would be explored.”

But McBurney indicated the recommendations would be kept sealed to protect the due process of those named in the report.


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