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News Every Day |

'Flurry of subpoenas' reveal 'sprawling contours' of Fani Willis' investigation of Trump: NYT



The case being made against former President Donald Trump's unsuccessful coup attempt by Fulton County District Attorney was the focus of a New York Times deep-dive published online on Saturday afternoon.

"The criminal investigation into efforts by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies to overturn his election loss in Georgia has begun to entangle, in one way or another, an expanding assemblage of characters: A United States senator. A congressman. A local Cadillac dealer. A high school economics teacher. The chairman of the state Republican Party. The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. Six lawyers aiding Mr. Trump, including a former New York City mayor. The former president himself. And a woman who has identified herself as a publicist for the rapper Kanye West," Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim reported.

Willis has sent "target" letters to multiple local GOP officials who took party in the phony electors scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which was won by Joe Biden.

"Fani T. Willis, the Atlanta area district attorney, has been leading the investigation since early last year. But it is only this month, with a flurry of subpoenas and target letters, as well as court documents that illuminate some of the closed proceedings of a special grand jury, that the inquiry’s sprawling contours have emerged," The Times reported. "For legal experts, that sprawl is a sign that Ms. Willis is doing what she has indicated all along: building the framework for a broad case that could target multiple defendants with charges of conspiracy to commit election fraud, or racketeering-related charges for engaging in a coordinated scheme to undermine the election."

The bogus elector slates were signed by 84 Trump supporters in 6 states. But Democratic Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has not indicated she is pursuing a similar prosecution. Same with New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul — who are also Democrats.

"What happened in Georgia was not altogether singular. The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol has put on display how Mr. Trump and his allies sought to subvert the election results in several crucial states, including by creating slates of fake pro-Trump electors. Yet even as many Democrats lament that the Justice Department is moving too slowly in its inquiry, the local Georgia prosecutor has been pursuing a quickening case that could pose the most immediate legal peril for the former president and his associates," The Times reported. "Whether Mr. Trump will ultimately be targeted for indictment remains unclear. But the David-before-Goliath dynamic may in part reflect that Ms. Willis’s legal decision-making is less encumbered than that of federal officials in Washington by the vast political and societal weight of prosecuting a former president, especially in a bitterly fissured country."

With Willis apparently pursing a broad investigation, it could pull in a number of prominent names if she pursues a racketeering case.

"She has already informed the head of the Georgia Republican Party that he is a target of the investigation, along with the party’s treasurer and 14 other Georgians who were on the slate of bogus Trump electors, including the car dealer and the economics teacher," the newspaper reported. "A number of people closer to Mr. Trump have also been drawn into the case. His personal lawyer, the former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, has been ordered by a judge to testify on Aug. 9. Lawyers for Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are fighting his subpoena to testify, as are lawyers for Representative Jody Hice, a stalwart Trump ally who led efforts in the House in January 2021 to stop the certification of votes. Ms. Willis is also seeking to compel testimony from John Eastman, an architect of the legal strategy to keep Mr. Trump in power, as well as other lawyers — Kenneth Chesebro, Jacki Pick Deason, Jenna Ellis and Cleta Mitchell — who played critical roles in the effort."

The newspaper says the investigation appears focused on the calls to pressure election officials, the fake elector plot, and "numerous misstatements" made by Giuliani during a 7-hour legislative hearing that was captured on video.

Attorney Norm Eisen, who was special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the first Trump impeachment, predicted Willis would indict Trump for racketeering under Georgia's version of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Eisen said, “she’s clearly going to charge this as a RICO case" and predicted it will be "very likely to be one of the most important criminal RICO cases ever brought in United States history.”

Read the full report.









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