Of the current investigations into Donald Trump, two in particular have the potential to cause him the most peril. New York state attorney general Tish James, in tandem with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, is investigating shady deals with Trump’s businesses. Meanwhile, Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia—home to most of Atlanta—has spent the last year looking into Trump’s attempt to steal Georgia’s electoral votes in his larger effort to steal another term.
Well, late Monday, Willis’ investigation ramped up another level. She got the green light to empanel a special grand jury to sift through evidence as part of her investigation into Trump.
Last week, Willis asked the Fulton County Superior Court for permission to empanel a special grand jury after a number of witnesses and potential witnesses balked at cooperating short of a subpoena. She specifically singled out Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who was on the receiving end of a now-infamous phone call in which Trump urged him to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s 11,780-vote lead. In an ominous sign, Willis told Fulton County chief judge Christopher Brasher that she had obtained evidence that showed the 2020 elections in Georgia were “subject to possible criminal disruptions.”
Raffensperger, whom The Atlanta Journal-Constitution believes will be the investigation’s star witness, dismissed the grand jury as a political stunt. However, he vowed to cooperate and testify—a move that will likely put him further in Trump’s doghouse. Remember, Raffensperger faces a primary challenge from Trump-loving Rep. Jody Hice.
Brasher revealed that he and his fellow judges had approved Willis’ request to empanel a grand jury, which will convene on May 2 and sit through May 2023 at the latest—though Willis said she intends to make a decision on whether to move forward with criminal charges by this year. While it will be empowered to “investigate any and all facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to alleged violations of the laws of the State of Georgia,” Willis will have to convene a regular grand jury in order to indict anyone.
A number of legal observers believe a special grand jury is really bad news for Trump. With a regular grand jury, Willis and her prosecutors would have had to present their case to a fresh set of jurors every two months. On top of that, Willis is almost certain to have to deal with Trump’s lawyers fighting tooth and nail to fight the investigation. Remember, Trump’s stock in trade is to run out the legal clock.
As I write this on Monday afternoon, we haven’t seen any temper tantrums masquerading as statements from Trump or his spokeswoman/sockpuppet, Liz Harrington. Remember, folks, Willis is one of two Black female prosecutors breathing down his neck. We all know that the fastest way to send Trump into a tizzy is to have a woman—especially a woman of color—stand up to him.
There have already been a lot of ominous signs for Trump from this investigation. For example, one of Willis’ first moves was to enlist the services of a top racketeering expert. So even at that stage, Willis was already thinking about hitting Trump with the legal equivalent of napalm—a racketeering indictment. Georgia’s version of RICO makes false statements to state officials a predicate act.
Later, we found out that Willis was looking into whether Trump and his underlings were involved in ghastly threats against election officials. When a district attorney has enough evidence to even ask if the president of the United States was involved in such behavior, that’s a BFD.
And now, Willis has the green light to conduct a full excavation into Trump’s attempt to steal Georgia even as he was claiming the election was being stolen from him. Pass the popcorn.