Update: Investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn Georgia's 2020 election result
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
The investigations into efforts to overturn the 2020 election have entered a new phase. Yesterday, the Michigan attorney general charged 16 people for their role in a fake elector scheme. These were Trump supporters who falsely attested that they were the state's official electors.
ADRIAN FLORIDO, HOST:
Those charges came just hours after Trump revealed that he has received word that he's a target of the federal probe by the special counsel. Typically, these sorts of target letters precede an indictment. If an indictment materializes, it would be the third for the former president who's called them all witch hunts.
CHANG: And here's another scene, four days a week, prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, enter a secure room inside the county courthouse, and they present cases to a grand jury. We're talking about everything from burglary to assault to murder. But sometime next month, these grand jurors may consider yet another indictment against former President Trump. WABE's Sam Gringlas joins us now from Atlanta. Hi, Sam.
SAM GRINGLAS, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.
CHANG: OK. So catch us up here. Remind us exactly what Georgia prosecutors have been investigating.
GRINGLAS: OK. Fulton prosecutors have spent over two years probing efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. You might remember that phone call Trump made to Georgia's secretary of state, asking him to find votes to beat Joe Biden. Prosecutors have also been investigating a plan to submit fake electors like in Michigan. The district attorney here, Fani Willis, has suggested she'll ask a grand jury for indictments in August and has told law enforcement to prepare for a significant public reaction.
CHANG: Well, August, it's right around the corner. Tell us how this grand jury process works.
GRINGLAS: Ailsa, I was in the room when this grand jury got selected and the pool included an artist, a teacher, a firefighter. Unlike a trial jury, there weren't questions about biases or opinions, just the first people up who are qualified to serve. Let me play you Judge Robert McBurney explaining the job.
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ROBERT MCBURNEY: The test right now isn't guilt or innocence because you are making a very narrow decision, whether there's probable cause to believe that the person named in the indictment committed the crime or crimes that are set forth in that indictment.
GRINGLAS: If just 12 of the 23 jurors believe that standard is met, the case moves to a trial. And when that indictment becomes public, the jurors' names will be listed on the page.
CHANG: Wait, really? The grand jurors' names are public?
GRINGLAS: Yep. Georgia code lays out how indictments look, including a line for grand juror names. But you can imagine how jurors in a game case or say, an indictment of a former president might worry about their safety.
GRINGLAS: The head of the prosecuting attorney's counsel told me there's no set mechanism or precedent for concealing grand jurors' names. So I asked former DeKalb District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming why the names are public.
GWEN KEYS FLEMING: We do not live in a society where the police and prosecutors get to make unilateral decisions to move forward with charges. That's why the grand jury system was set up. The system does not work without the participation of ordinary residents of the county.
GRINGLAS: She says transparency is a big part of that, so the public can trust the integrity of the process. And that might be especially important in a case like this one.
CHANG: Well, how does the Fulton County probe fit in with all the other investigations going on right now that are focused on Trump and all the fallout from 2020?
GRINGLAS: Right. As you said, Trump may be facing three other indictments. So I asked former federal prosecutor, Joyce Vance, whether these developments dull the significance of Fulton County's investigation.
JOYCE VANCE: If by losing steam, we mean does the press have less interest or is it less in the public eye? Well, maybe. But these prosecutions have merit individually, and they have merit collectively.
GRINGLAS: And, Ailsa, all these prosecutions are coming to a head as Trump remains the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
CHANG: That is WABE's Sam Gringlas in Atlanta. Thank you so much, Sam.
GRINGLAS: Thanks, Ailsa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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