Grand Jury Likely Recommended Trump Indictment – Forewoman; Expect Many to be Charged; No Surprises; “It’s Not Rocket Science”
Grand Jury Likely Recommended Trump Indictment
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 22, 2023) – The forewoman of the grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, investigating whether former president Donald Trump and many of his powerful associates should be charged with crimes, has strongly hinted that the special grand jury requested that Trump be indicted along with many others.
While not being too specific, she did say that "it's not a short list" of people - apparently more than a dozen - the special grand jury concluded should be charged. This by itself is very telling for two reasons, says the public interest law professor whose formal criminal complaint against Trump is credited with triggering the entire investigation.
First, if a large number of people are slated to be charged, it puts DA Fani Willis in a very strong bargaining position to use indictments - or even the treat of indictment - to get many who worked very closely with Trump to "flip" and testify against him. This would further strengthen what many see as an already very strong criminal case, says Professor John Banzhaf.
Second, it's hard to see how Willis could indict many of those who are known to have worked closely with and on behalf of Trump to tamper with the election, yet not indict the man who clearly was in the middle of everything which happened, and who was in the best position to direct these friends and subordinates in carrying out the overall schema, Banzhaf says.
Also, asked directly about an indictment of Trump, the forewoman, Emily Kohrs, did not deny it. Instead she said that “You’re not going to be shocked. It’s not rocket science . . . you won’t be too surprised.”
She further explained that “I will tell you that if the judge releases the recommendations, it is not going to be some giant plot twist . . . you probably have a fair idea of what may be in there. I’m trying very hard to say that delicately.”
There was a "lot of very compelling evidence," she assured everyone during an appearance on CNN, while also revealing that the special grant jury was allowed to hear a number of telephone calls by Trump.
Since the overwhelming majority of those who have studied the situation has publicly concluded that Trump would be indicted, it would be both a shock and a surprise if he wasn't - something Kohrs said would not happen. Indeed, by saying that "It’s not rocket science," she is strongly suggesting that the evidence against Trump is both clear and uncomplicated.
Gravest Legal Threat
Indeed, Prof Banzhaf noted that an ever growing number of experts have also concluded that Trump's gravest legal threat comes not from the newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith, but rather from the DA of Fulton County, Georgia; in part because Attorney General Merrick Garland may nix one or more proposed federal prosecutions for legal and political reasons, as well as because of the troubling "optics," says Banzhaf.
Very recently, civil rights attorney David Henderson said on MSNBC that "I think in terms of prosecutors, he has the most to fear down in Georgia because Fani Willis is not going to back off, and many of the arguments that we hear about prosecuting the former president are not going to be persuasive to her."
Also, Willis wrote “target” letters to 10 more Republican electors, putting them on notice that they too could be indicted - a very clear indication that she is moving forward. It’s hard to see how electors in a scheme to affect the election could be prosecuted without also including the person behind and encouraging the entire scheme, argues Banzhaf.
Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard University, has written "It wouldn't surprise me for Georgia to become the first jurisdiction to indict a former president on felony charges. And I think the charges will stick."
Earlier, THE HILL reported that legal experts say "an Atlanta-area prosecutor’s investigation into former President Trump’s effort to overturn his 2020 electoral defeat in Georgia poses the most significant legal threat to the former president," notes Banzhaf.
“The steps her office has taken, including empaneling a special grand jury and subpoenaing high-profile witnesses, are very likely not steps she would have taken if she did not feel there was at least a significant possibility that she will move forward with charges,” said one expert.
He added that “the stakes in holding Trump accountable for an attack on our democratic system of government couldn’t be higher, and the evidence is extremely compelling.”
"The most serious prospect of prosecution" that Trump faces is in Fulton County, Georgia, reported the New York Times in an Op-Ed by two experienced prosecutors (one Democrat and one Republican); a conclusion reinforcing an earlier 100-page analysis by seven legal experts who concluded that the former president faces a “substantial risk of possible state charges predicated on multiple crimes.”
As the two former prosecutors concluded, "Willis’s work may present the most serious prospect of prosecution that Mr. Trump and his enablers are facing.. . . She has a demonstrated record of courage and of conviction.
She has taken on — and convicted — a politically powerful group, Atlanta’s teachers, as the lead prosecutor in the city’s teacher cheating scandal. And she is playing with a strong hand in this investigation. The evidentiary record of Mr. Trump’s post-election efforts in Georgia is compelling."
As the New York Times further explained: "What’s more, Georgia criminal law is some of the most favorable in the country for getting at Mr. Trump’s alleged misconduct.
For example, there is a Georgia law on the books expressly forbidding just what Mr. Trump apparently did in Ms. Willis’s jurisdiction: solicitation of election fraud. Under this statute [ GA Code § 21-2-604], a person commits criminal solicitation of election fraud when he or she intentionally 'solicits, requests, commands, importunes or otherwise attempts to cause' another person to engage in election fraud."
It also seems clear the Willis will bring charges under Georgia's RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations] Act which is more sweeping than its federal counterpart, says Banzhaf, whose legal memo led to a successful federal RICO prosecution of the major tobacco companies.
There are many other indications that Willis may be the first prosecutor to indict Trump, suggests Banzhaf, whose criminal complaint triggered her investigation, and who also played a role in obtaining special prosecutors for former president Richard Nixon, and for finally bringing former Vice President Spiro Agnew to justice.