Fulton sheriff: We’re securing the courts before any Trump-related indictments
Fulton County Sherriff Pat Labat has spoken to District Attorney Fani Willis ahead of any possible criminal indictments this summer from her Donald Trump investigation.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Fulton County Sherriff Pat Labat has spoken to District Attorney Fani Willis after her announcement she may issue criminal indictments this summer into alleged election interference from former president Donald Trump.
“We are intimately prepared to make sure whatever next steps she takes, we respond accordingly,” Labat told Atlanta News First reporter Zac Summers. “We sent teams to New York to observe, understand what the lay of the land is, but more important, it helps your viewers understand [that] the sheriff’s office is bigger than the jail. We have courts [and] three high-profile gang cases [going on] at the same time.
“With pending indictments upcoming, we are making sure we secure the courts and we still have to make sure we’re protecting our community at the same time,” Labat said.
Willis sent a letter late Monday afternoon to Fulton County law enforcement officials regarding her investigation into the nation’s 45th president.
Willis addressed the letter to Labat, in which she wrote, “I will be announcing charging decisions resulting from this investigation during Fulton County Superior Court’s fourth term of court, which will begin on July 11, 2023, and conclude on September 1, 2023. Please accept this correspondence as notice to allow you sufficient time to prepare the Sheriff’s Office and coordinate with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure that our law enforcement community is ready to protect the public.”
One of the high-profile gang trials to which Labat was referring involves a massive RICO case against Jeffery Williams, aka Young Thug. Jury selection began in January and to date, not a single juror has been chosen in a trial that has already seen its fair share of arrests, charges and disruptions.
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, a contest that saw Joe Biden become the first Democrat to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.
Trump has already become the nation’s first ex-president in history to face criminal charges. Earlier this year, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged the 45th president with alleged hush money payments made to porn actress Stephanie Clifford and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whom he feared would go public with claims that they had extramarital sexual encounters with him.
A Manhattan grand jury has been probing Trump’s involvement in a $130,000 payment made in 2016 to the porn actor Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public about a sexual encounter she said she had with him years earlier.
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,” said the partial release of the grand jury report. “We find by unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election.”
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.
Last year, 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 that the 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.
Trump’s indictment adds to his list of firsts in American politics:
- First president to be impeached in the 21st century
- First president to be impeached twice in U.S. history, as well as the first to be acquitted twice;
- First president in the 21st century to be defeated in a re-election bid;
- First Republican president since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to be defeated in a re-election bid;
- First modern ex-president to lose a re-election bid and then launch a third bid.
- First ex-president in history to face criminal charges.
- First ex-president in history to face criminal charges while running a White House campaign.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has attacked both Bragg’s and Willis’ investigations. A conviction would not prevent Trump from running for or winning the presidency in 2024.
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