Key figures in the Donald Trump/Georgia indictment
From the grand jurors to the nation’s 45th president, here’s who’s who in Fulton County’s historic indictment.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - In May 2022, a special grand jury seated in Fulton County - Georgia’s most heavily populated and home to the city of Atlanta - began an investigation into allegations that former President Donald Trump attempted to influence the outcome of the state’s 2020 general election.
Here are the key players in that investigation:
On Jan. 2, 2021, the nation’s 45th president and his aides placed a call from the White House to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger regarding the outcome of the state’s 2020 presidential election results, an election that Trump had lost by just over 11,000 votes. In that call, Trump appealed to Georgia’s top elections official to help him “find 11,780 votes,” just enough needed to beat Democrat Joe Biden.
That call has become a crucial part of Fulton County DA Fani Willis’ investigation into whether Trump or any of his associates interfered with the election’s outcome, an election that saw Biden become the first Democrat to win Georgia in a presidential election since Bill Clinton in 1992.
Trump has repeatedly slammed the investigation as a “strictly political witch hunt.” The former president’s mounting legal troubles have not prevented him from not only launching a 2024 reelection bid, but a consistent lead in polls among GOP voters.
The first woman to serve as Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis took office on January 1, 2021, after ousting longtime incumbent - and former boss - Paul Howard.
Willis, a career trial lawyer with 19 years of prosecutorial experience, opened a criminal investigation “into attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia General Election.” A special grand jury with subpoena power was seated in May at her request. In court filings, she is alleging “a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”
Willis graduated from Howard University in 1992 and came to Atlanta to attend Emory University School of Law, graduating in 1996. She lives in the city of South Fulton, one of Georgia’s newest cities and which has been mired in controversy almost since its municipalization.
Fulton County DA Fani Willis’ sweeping indictment from her investigation into alleged attempts by former President Donald Trump to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election includes some of the most prominent figures in the Republican Party.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was a target of Trump’s ire as his efforts repeatedly failed to overturn Georgia’s election outcome.
Kemp was in the middle of a nationally watched reelection battle against Democrat Stacey Abrams last fall when he was called to testify before Willis’ special grand jury on the Trump case. However, a Fulton County Superior Court judge ruled Kemp could wait until after the election to appear.
After handily winning reelection last fall, Kemp has been urging fellow Republicans to resist urges to “look in the rearview mirror” as the 2024 presidential election nears, a veiled reference to Trump.
Georgia’s most politically powerful GOP governor in recent memory also boycotted this year’s Georgia Republican convention, which Trump headlined.
Burt Jones, a former state senator and now Georgia’s first-term lieutenant governor, was identified last year as one of 16 Republicans who allegedly served as fake electors in the 2020 election.
Jones won the open election for lieutenant governor with Trump’s backing. The former incumbent, Geoff Duncan, became a vocal critic of Trump’s claims the election was stolen. He even penned a book entitled “GOP 2.0: How the 2020 Election Can Lead to a Better Way Forward for America’s Conservative Party.”
Duncan’s decision not to run for reelection after only one term as lieutenant governor opened the door for Jones, who had represented middle Georgia’s District 25 since 2012.
Willis was disqualified from investigating Jones’ alleged role as a fake elector operating on Trump’s behalf because of her support of his opponent in the lieutenant governor’s race, Democrat Charlie Bailey.
Georgia’s 29th Secretary of State was first elected in 2018 and overwhelmingly re-elected in 2022. A former Johns Creek, Georgia, city councilman, Brad Raffensperger was elected to the state House in 2014, where he served two terms.
Raffensperger was the recipient of the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call from then-President Donald Trump and his aides, who argued Georgia’s election was compromised, specifically in Fulton County
Raffensperger testified before the special grand jury investigating whether Trump and others illegally tried to meddle in the 2020 election. He also testified before a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that Trump’s claims of 2020 election fraud “were false.”
In Georgia, Raffensperger has overseen the delivery of the largest implementation of voting machines in U.S. history, according to his office, and oversaw the modernization of its election system by adding its first auditable paper ballot system. He is the first Secretary of State to pass legislation requiring photo ID for all forms of voting, and expanding polling places in Georgia counties.
The newly leveled case against former President Donald Trump and his co-defendants accusing them of engaging in a conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia has been assigned to a judge who is a lifelong Georgian.
Scott McAfee became a Fulton County Superior Court judge in February after a career in which he has worked as a prosecutor and state inspector general, where he was “responsible for investigating allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse in the Executive Branch of state government.”
When he was appointed inspector general in March 2021, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, called him a “strong addition to my administration.”
Atlanta attorneys Drew Findling, Jennifer Little and Dwight Thomas are representing the former president.
Findling, who goes by the hashtag #BillionDollarLawyer, has represented other high-profile clients, such as Gucci Mane; Katt Williams; Karen King of “Love and Hip Hop” fame; and Victor Hill, the suspended Clayton County sheriff.
Thomas represented internationally known rapper T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, after he was arrested and charged with illegal firearms possession.
Little’s career began her career as a major felony prosecutor in DeKalb County. She now is a private practitioner.
The man once known as America’s mayor testified last year before Willis’ special grand jury. Giuliani is also a target of a criminal investigation into possible illegal attempts by then-President Trump and others to interfere in the 2020 general election in Georgia.
Guiliani, a former U.S. associate attorney general and former U.S. Attorney, served as Trump’s lawyer as he sought to overturn the 2020 election’s results.
Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City when the 9/11 terrorist attacks struck his city, lost his law license in New York and Washington, D.C., as a result of his support of Trump’s claims about rigged voting machines, polling place fraud, and an international communist conspiracy.
Guiliani is also the target of several lawsuits, including a defamation lawsuit from two former Fulton County election workers - Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss - who were alleged by Guiliani of mishandling ballots in the election. Raffensperger has said numerous allegations made against the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections, and specifically, Freeman and Moss, were false and unsubstantiated.
In July, two grand juries were seated in Fulton County, and one of them handed up indictments to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis against former President Donald Trump and allies in Georgia over alleged attempts to overturn the state’s results after the 2020 election.
The two grand juries will be comprised of 23 citizens each, whittled down from a pool of nearly a hundred prospective grand jurors.
That report showed there was no widespread fraud in Georgia’s 2020 election, as Trump has claimed, and also recommended charges against several individuals who weren’t named. The report also indicated some of the subjects involved in the investigation may have lied under oath.
Unlike a criminal trial – where consent among jurors has to be reached for a conviction – the burden on grand juries for recommending an indictment is far lower. Out of the 23 members seated, only 12 have to agree to recommend charges.
Atlanta News First and Atlanta News First+ provide you with the latest news, headlines and insights as Georgia continues its role at the forefront of the nation’s political scene. Download our Atlanta News First app for the latest political news and information.
Copyright 2023 WANF. All rights reserved.