Grand jury in Trump election probe believes some witnesses lied

Former President Donald Trump has already announced he is running for president for the third time. Credit: AP

A special grand jury investigating Donald Trump and his allies efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia says it believes "one or more witnesses" committed perjury.

They have since asked that local prosecutors bring charges to those believed to have committed perjury.

District Attorney Fani Willis should “seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling,” according to portions of the special grand jury's final report.

Those sections are silent on key details, including who the panel believes committed perjury and what other specific charges should be pursued.

But it marks the first time the grand jurors' recommendations for criminal charges tied to the case have been made public.

And it's a reminder of the intensifying legal challenges facing the former president as he ramps up his third White House bid amid multiple legal investigations.

Mr Trump is also under investigation by the US Department of Justice for holding classified documents at his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago.

The former president never testified before the special grand jury, meaning he is not among those who could have perjured themselves.

Portions of a report issued by a special grand jury looking into possible meddling in the 2020 election in Georgia. Credit: AP

But the report doesn't disclose the possibility of other charges, and the case still poses particular challenges for Mr Trump, due to his actions in Georgia being so public.

Trump and his allies made unproven claims of widespread voter fraud and berated Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Governor Brian Kemp for not acting to overturn his narrow loss to President Joe Biden in the state.

Ms Willis has said since the beginning of the investigation two years ago that she was interested in a January 2, 2021, phone call in which Mr Trump suggested to Raffensperger that he could “find” the votes needed to overturn his loss in the state.

“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Mr Trump said during that call. “Because we won the state.”

Mr Trump has said repeatedly that his call with Mr Raffensperger was “perfect,” and he said last month that he felt “very confident” that he would not be indicted. In a statement on Thursday, he continued to assert he did “absolutely nothing wrong.”

In fact, he claimed on his social media platform, Truth Social, that the release had give him “Total exoneration,” though it did no such thing and portions having to do with recommended charges are still secret.

State and federal officials, including Trump’s attorney general, have consistently said the election was secure and there was no evidence of significant fraud.

After hearing “extensive testimony on the issue,” the special grand jury agreed in a unanimous vote that there was no widespread fraud in Georgia's election.

Over the course of about seven months, the special grand jurors heard from 75 witnesses, among them Trump allies including former New York mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and US Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Top Georgia officials, such as Mr Raffensperger and Mr Kemp, also appeared before the panel.

While there were relatively few details in Thursday's release, it does provide some insight into the panel's process.

The report’s introduction says an “overwhelming majority” of the information that the grand jury received “was delivered in person under oath.”

It also noted that no one on the panel was an election law expert or criminal lawyer.

Based on witnesses called to testify before the special grand jury, it is clear that the District Attorney is focusing on several areas. Those include:

  • Phone calls by Trump and others to Georgia officials in the wake of the 2020 election.

  • A group of 16 Georgia Republicans who signed a certificate in December 2020 falsely stating that Trump had won the state and that they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors.

  • False allegations of election fraud made during meetings of state legislators at the Georgia Capitol in December 2020.

  • The copying of data and software from election equipment in rural Coffee County by a computer forensics team hired by Trump allies.

  • Alleged attempts to pressure Fulton County elections worker Ruby Freeman into falsely confessing to election fraud.

  • The abrupt resignation of the US attorney in Atlanta in January 2021.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.