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Georgia grand juries impaneled as Trump probe decision looms

An announcement is expected before September on charging decisions involving "possible criminal interference" in the state's 2020 presidential election.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in court in Atlanta on July 11, 2023.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in court in Atlanta on Tuesday.Brynn Anderson / AP file

ATLANTA — A Georgia judge on Tuesday seated two grand juries that are likely to be tasked with deciding whether to bring election interference charges against former President Donald Trump and his allies.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has said she plans to announce charging decisions stemming from an investigation into "possible criminal interference in the administration of Georgia’s 2020 general election” during a Superior Court term that began Tuesday.

Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney seated two grand juries that will hear cases over the length of term, which ends Sept. 1. Each panel consists of 23 jurors and three alternates.

McBurney informed the grand jury members that they need only to find probable cause to indict a person and stressed that their decisions must be based on the law, not personal opinions.

Willis has been conducting a sprawling investigation since early 2021 into whether Trump and his allies interfered in the state's election process during the last presidential election.

She enlisted a special grand jury last year that was empowered to subpoena witnesses to assist in the probe, which looked at whether there were any “coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections.” That panel recommended indicting more than a dozen people, its foreperson, Emily Kohrs, said on NBC’s “Nightly News” in February. The names have not been made public.

“There are certainly names that you will recognize, yes. There are names also you might not recognize,” Kohrs said at the time.

Since then, a number of so-called fake electors — people who signed a certificate falsely declaring that Trump won Georgia in the 2020 election and that they were the state’s official electors — have struck immunity deals with Willis’ office, court filings show.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the case and maintains Willis, a Democrat, is leading a politically motivated "witch hunt" against him.

Willis has indicated that she could seek indictments in the case in the first half of August.

“I respectfully request that judges not schedule trials and in person hearings during the weeks beginning Monday, August 7 and Monday, August 14,” Willis wrote in a letter in May to the chief judge of the Fulton County Courthouse.

One of the grand juries impaneled Tuesday is scheduled to meet every Monday and Tuesday during the court's term, and the other is scheduled to convene Thursdays and Fridays. Both will hear cases two days a week.

Unlike the special grand jury Willis used last year, the grand juries will hear all sorts of cases, not just those related to the election investigation.

It takes 16 members to establish a quorum each day and 12 votes for an indictment. McBurney told the jurors they would be paid $25 a day for their service.

Charlie Gile reported from Atlanta, and Dareh Gregorian reported from New York.