ATLANTA (AP) – The Georgia prosecutor, who is investigating possible efforts by Donald Trump and others to influence last year’s general election, has a message for people eager to see whether the former president will be indicted: be patient.
“I’m in no rush,” Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis said in an interview with The Associated Press this week. “I think people think I feel this immense pressure. Not me.”
Willis, a Democrat elected in November, sent letters to state officials on February 10, asking them to keep records of the election, particularly those that might contain evidence of attempts to influence election officials. But she said this week that she is not sure where the investigation will go or how long it will take.
Her office confirmed that the investigation included a phone call in which Trump asked Georgian Foreign Secretary Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to undo Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Willis also said she had questions about a call from U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham to Raffensperger, the sudden departure of a senior federal attorney, and statements to the Georgia legislature committees.
The investigation is in the very early stages, Willis said. Lawyers search data – including news reports – to create a list of witnesses. Once they start talking to people, it inevitably leads to other people and records they want to see. Eventually, Willis said, they’ll have enough information to decide whether laws have actually been broken.
Democrats and some Republicans have condemned Trump’s appeal to Raffensperger. Some critics said the recording was evidence of meddling in criminal elections.
Lawyers from across the country have offered help, Willis said. While she may at some point seek out an outside attorney with specific expertise, she said it will require careful review.
“I don’t want someone who already has a result in mind,” she said.
Willis wrote in the letters to state officials that her office is conducting a criminal investigation into “potential violations of Georgian law, including the solicitation of electoral fraud, false testimony to state and local government agencies, conspiracy, extortion, and oath violation anybody.” Involvement in violence or threats related to election administration. “
She wrote that her team “has no reason to believe that a Georgian official is a target of this investigation”.
After a break in connection with coronaviruses, two large juries are to be set up next week so that the prosecution can apply for subpoenas.
After the general election in November, Trump refused to accept his loss in Georgia, a long-time Republican stronghold, with around 12,000 votes. He and his allies made unsubstantiated claims of widespread electoral fraud and hurled insults against Raffensperger, Governor Brian Kemp and Governor Geoff Duncan – all Republicans – for failing to act to reverse his loss.
State and federal officials have repeatedly stated that the election is safe and that there is no evidence of systemic fraud.
In a phone conversation with Raffensperger on Jan. 2, Trump repeatedly suggested that Raffensperger could alter the confirmed presidential election results, a claim the Secretary of State firmly denied.
“I just want to do that. I just want to find 11,780 votes, one more than us, ”said Trump. “Because we won the state.”
When Willis ‘investigation became public, senior Trump adviser Jason Miller said it was “simply the Democrats’ most recent attempt to gain political points by continuing their witch hunt against President Trump, and everyone is looking through.”
During his conversation with Raffensperger, Trump also appeared to suggest that Byung J. “BJay” Pak, the Trump-appointed US attorney in Atlanta, was a “Never-Trumper” – a term often used for conservative critics of Trump . Pak abruptly announced his resignation the day after the appeal was published. He never publicly announced his departure.
“I find it especially weird how he left and when he left,” Willis said of Pak. “To do my job right, I have to ask questions. That’s only logical. “
Before calling Raffensperger, Trump tried unsuccessfully to pressure others in Georgia. While election officials were checking signatures on postal voting envelopes in an Atlanta subway district in December, Trump on a phone call told a senior investigator to “find the scam” and said it would make the investigator a national hero. Trump also demanded that Kemp order a special session of the state parliament to overturn Biden’s victory.
Prior to those calls, Raffensperger said U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, called him to ask if the Secretary of State had authority to reject certain postal ballots, which Raffensperger interpreted as a proposal to cast legally cast votes.
Graham called the idea “ridiculous” that he would propose to discard legally cast ballots.
Willis said she hadn’t determined if the Graham call was against the law but said, “It’s of interest.”
When asked if she deals with debunked claims that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani made before the Georgia legislative committees that challenged the legitimacy of the state elections, Willis said, “We’re not going to go too far, but if these are Things appear to be part of a plan to influence the choice, they become relevant. “
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