A Georgia special grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in that state has delivered its report to local judges, paving the way for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to potentially bring criminal charges against the former president and some of his allies in the next few months.
The special grand jury completed its work late last year after taking testimony from dozens of witnesses — including some, such as former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who never testified before the House committee investigating Jan. 6, 2021. But Willis never subpoenaed Trump himself to testify, apparently concluding that it would needlessly bog down her investigation with legal motions and other court challenges from the former president.
Willis herself is expected to get a copy of the report sometime on Monday. The Fulton County judge overseeing the case, Robert McBurney, filed an order Monday morning with the court declaring that the special grand jury — which had been convened at Willis’s request and began taking testimony last June — had completed its work.
“It is the ORDER of this Court that the special purpose grand jury now stands DISSOLVED,” McBurney wrote in his order. “The Court thanks the grand jurors for their dedication, professionalism, and significant commitment of time and attention to this important matter. It was no small sacrifice to serve.”
McBurney also scheduled a hearing for Jan. 24, to determine if portions of the report or the entire document can be made public. Under Georgia law, special grand juries such as the one Willis convened can conduct investigations and make recommendations about whether to bring criminal charges. But for such charges to be formally filed, Willis will have to present the evidence to a regular grand jury — a process that could take several more months.
“This is a major milestone,” Norm Eisen, a Brookings Institution fellow who served as an adviser to the House Judiciary Committee during the first impeachment of Trump, told Yahoo News. “I think it’s safe to say that charges are likely — but not certain — against Trump and a single-digit number of co-conspirators.”
At a minimum, Willis’s probe appears to be on a faster track than a broader U.S. Justice Department investigation into Trump’s conduct relating to the 2020 presidential election and the events of Jan. 6. That investigation is now being overseen by a special counsel, Jack Smith, appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Smith, who had been serving as an international war crimes prosecutor in the Hague, only recently returned to the United States following his recuperation from a bicycle accident.)
Willis first announced her probe in early 2021, after the disclosure of then-President Trump’s Jan. 2, 2021, phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger urging him to “find” enough votes to flip the state’s electoral votes from Joe Biden to Trump. Since then, she has expanded the probe to include related schemes in the state, including the appointment of so-called fake electors pledged to Trump and who were convened by Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer at the state capitol on Dec. 14, 2020.
Willis has strongly hinted that she was examining whether to use Georgia’s broad racketeering law to bring conspiracy charges against Trump and his allies. Like many other details in the special grand jury’s still-secret report, it is not clear whether the grand jurors themselves recommended that approach.
But Eisen said it is not a surprise that Willis chose not to call Trump before the special grand jury. “We all know that Trump would never have cooperated,” he said. “So why bother?”