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The grand jury in Georgia investigating Trump on election interference is beginning to begin

US President Donald Trump is attending a campaign rally for Republican US Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler ahead of their January re-election to determine control of the US Senate in Valdosta, Georgia, USA, on December 5, 2020.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The special jury to help investigate former President Donald Trump for possible criminal interference in Georgia’s presidential election in 2020 sat on Monday after a selection process that took less than 90 minutes.

The investigation, which employs the grand jury sitting in Atlanta, is considered by some observers to represent the biggest threat of criminal prosecution that Trump is currently facing.

While he was still president, waiting for Congress to confirm the victory of President Joe Biden’s election college, Trump in a phone call on January 2, 2021, urged Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” him enough votes to overthrow Biden’s victory in that state. .

The phone call – and contacts that other people have made with the state’s justice minister and a top federal prosecutor in Georgia – are being monitored in the criminal investigation. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis oversees the investigation.

The selection of the grand jury began Monday morning at the Fulton County Courthouse in downtown Atlanta.

A total of 200 potential jurors were summoned to the selection process. Out of that group, 23 jurors and three deputies were quickly selected to the panel, which can meet for up to a year.

The grand jury, which will have the power to summon testimony from witnesses and to gather evidence, will not begin taking testimony until next month. The delay will give jurors time to arrange their schedules and wait for the May 24 primary election in the state. Raffensperger and other potential witnesses are on the ballot.

The panel will not have the power to issue charges, but can make recommendations to Willis on criminal prosecution.

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Another grand jury in New York State Court in Manhattan, which investigated Trump for possible criminal behavior in his business, was reportedly allowed to expire on April 30 without issuing charges. The grand jury concluded, despite allegations from a previous prosecutor, with this investigation that there was evidence that Trump was guilty of several crimes.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has said their investigation into Trump is continuing, and suggested that other grand juries could be used to take testimony about him and the Trump organization.

But the resignation of two prosecutors from the investigation and a third prosecutor’s reported decision to resign from active involvement in the case has dramatically lowered expectations of criminal charges against Trump there.

In Georgia, a judge in January upheld Willis’ request to appoint a grand jury to investigate Trump, after Willis said she “received information indicating a reasonable likelihood” that Georgia’s 2020 election “was the subject of possible criminal disturbances. . “

Willis said the information included reports that people “associated with these disturbances” had contacted the state secretary of state, its attorney general and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

The contacts were part of a pattern from Trump and his allies to try to reverse Biden’s popular vote victories in several swing states, among them Georgia. These states gave the president his margin of victory in the Electoral College, the body that actually determines the winner of the U.S. presidential election.

“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes,” Trump told Raffensperger in the January 2021 call. It happened four days before a riot of Trump supporters disrupted a joint session of Congress that met to confirm Biden’s election college victory.

Raffensperger had indicated to Willis’ office that he would not participate in an interview with criminal investigators unless he was summoned, DA wrote a judge in January.

Trump has said his call to Raffensperger “was perfect, perhaps even more than my call to the Ukrainian president, if possible.”

Trump in that 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged him to announce an investigation into Biden and Biden’s son Hunter. The call came as Biden was the favorite to win the Democratic Party presidential candidate in 2020.

Trump withheld congressional-approved military aid from Ukraine at the time of the phone call. He was indicted by the House of Representatives because of the call, but was acquitted during the Senate trial.

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