All 16 of the people claiming to have been Georgia’s electors for Donald Trump — even though the former president lost in that state — have been designated as targets of investigation, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) revealed on Tuesday afternoon.
The DA made the disclosure in response to a disqualification motion by one of the electors: GOP state Sen. Burt Jones.
Willis’s office described Jones as “similarly situated” to his 15 other “unofficial electors” whom she says were informed of their “target” status.
Earlier in the day, counsel for 11 of the would-be electors moved to quash the subpoenas and disqualify the DA, arguing that her office assured them that they were mere witnesses to her investigation.
“At no time in our communications with the DA’s Office before June 28 did anyone ever suggest that the nominee electors’ status had changed or that they were no longer considered witnesses, including when they were subpoenaed,” an italicized passage of the motion reads.
“Our Investigation Has Matured”
Once the date arrived, the 11 electors’ attorneys say their clients received a rude surprise.
“Immediately upon learning that the nominee electors were, in fact, planning to testify substantively to the Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade informed us for the first time that all of these eleven nominee electors were suddenly targets, stating that ‘as our investigation has matured and new evidence has come to light, in a spirit of integrity we feel it only fitting to inform you that your clients’ status has changed to ‘Target,'” the motion reveals.
After losing the election by a convincing margin both nationally and in Georgia, Trump called Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to urge him “find 11,780 votes” — the number the former president needed to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat. Another plan reportedly called for Trump sending his electors to Congress for certification, even though Georgia voters chose President Joe Biden.
The would-be Trump electors who now identify themselves as the DA’s targets are Mark Amick, Joseph Brannan, Brad Carver, Vikki Consiglio, John Downey, Carolyn Fish, Kay Godwin, Cathy Latham, David Shafer, Shawn Still, and CB Yadav.
The development follows a bombshell Yahoo News report last week that the prosecutor’s office has informed prominent state Republicans that they are also “targets,” meaning that they could be indicted.
The recipients of the earlier letters reportedly included state Sen. Burt Jones (R), who was Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) running mate for lieutenant governor; David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party; and state Sen. Brandon Beach (R).
Jones also asked to disqualify Willis recently, accusing her of not acting as a “disinterested” prosecutor.
Those letters also indicated that the GOP officials were in prosecutors’ crosshairs in connection with the electors’ scheme.
“A Much Broader Net”
After being informed their clients were targets, the electors’ counsel said that they advised them not to testify before the grand jury.
“The abrupt, unsupportable, and public elevation of all eleven nominee electors’ status wrongfully converted them from witnesses who were cooperating voluntarily and prepared to testify in the Grand Jury to persecuted targets of it,” their attorneys Holly Pierson and Kimberly Bourroughs wrote. “In light of the escalation, counsel advised the elector nominees to invoke their federal and state constitutional and statutory rights not to provide substantive testimony to the grand jury, advice they have reluctantly accepted. The unavoidable conclusion is that the nominee electors’ change of status was not precipitated by new evidence or an honestly-held belief that the they have criminal exposure but instead an improper desire to force them to publicly invoke their rights as, at best, a publicity stunt.”
In a recent interview, Georgia criminal appellate lawyer Brandon Bullard told Law&Crime it is uncommon for local prosecutors to send out “target” letters preceding indictment, a more frequent feature of federal prosecutions.
Bullard, who shared his insights after the reports concerning Georgia GOP “targets” on Friday, said that the apparently widening scope of the investigation could signal “a RICO-type prosecution, where you’re looking at what we’re looking at holding several lots of people accountable for the combined for their several acts, in furtherance of some other illegal scheme.”
“It does suggest a much broader net, perhaps, or at least they’re considering a broader net than just the former president and even perhaps even his close associates,” Bullard added.
In October 2021, the Brookings Institute — a centrist think tank — contemplated in a report the possibility of a prosecution under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in Fulton County.
“Trump’s multifaceted and sustained effort to subvert the count and certification of the election in Georgia may include a host of distinct state crimes,” the report said. “As such, prosecution under Georgia’s RICO law may be available and appropriate. Indeed, it is difficult not to draw parallels between Trump’s threats and intimidation and more classic targets of RICO charges.”
The DA’s office has not filed any charges to date in connection with its investigation. The special grand jury that it has empaneled is not empowered to return indictments.
The DA’s office did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s email requesting comment.
Read the motion, below:
(Screenshot via WSBTV)
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