Decision on charges in Georgia election probe to happen this summer, DA says
ATLANTA - Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, in a letter to the sheriff, says a decision on charges stemming from the probe into whether former President Donald Trump and his allies potentially criminally meddled in the 2020 election in Georgia could come as early as July.
The letter, which was hand-delivered to Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat, states "the need for vigilance will increase" regarding court security starting this summer. The DA acknowledges several high-profile cases are currently ongoing, but warns the sheriff she will be announcing charging decisions stemming from the findings of a special grand jury between July 11 and Sept. 1. The DA urges "heightened security" during that time.
"Open-source intelligence has indicated the announcement of decisions in this case may provoke a significant public reaction," the letter reads in part. "We have seen in recent years that some may go outside of public expressions of opinion that are protected by the First Amendment to engage in acts of violence that will endanger the safety our community. As leaders, it is incumbent upon us to prepare."
The DA is urging a collaboration with her investigative leadership team and the sheriff’s office to ensure the "law enforcement community is ready to protect the public."
The Atlanta Police Department confirmed receipt of a letter from Willis and said it would "continue to monitor the potential for unrest throughout our city."
"We stand ready to respond to demonstrations to ensure the safety of those in our communities and those exercising their First Amendment right, or to address illegal activity, should the need arise," a department statement said.
Willis opened the Georgia investigation in early 2021, shortly after a recording of a phone call between Trump and a top state official was made public. During that Jan. 2, 2021, phone call, Trump suggested that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger could "find" the votes needed to reverse his narrow loss in the state.
The special grand jury, which was seated in May 2022, heard from about 75 witnesses and considered other evidence before wrapping up its work in December. It did not have the authority to issue indictments but instead produced a report with recommendations for Willis. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ordered most of that report remains under seal.
DA Willis argued that indictments were imminent, at the time.
Trump's legal team in Georgia - Drew Findling, Jennifer Little and Marissa Goldberg - said in a statement that Willis' announcement to law enforcement "does nothing more than set forth a potential timetable" for decisions Willis had already said were coming.
"On behalf of President Trump, we filed a substantive legal challenge for which the D.A.'s Office has yet to respond," the statement said. "We look forward to litigating that comprehensive motion which challenges the deeply flawed legal process and the ability of the conflicted D.A's Office to make any charging decisions at all."
Trump's legal team last month filed a motion seeking to toss out a report drafted by a special grand jury that was impaneled to aid Willis' investigation. They also asked the court to prohibit Willis from continuing to investigate or prosecute Trump. A judge gave Willis until May 1 to respond.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.