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Witnesses in Trump investigation may have lied, says Georgia grand jury report

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Multiple witnesses who testified before a special purpose grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election may have lied and committed perjury, according to a section of the grand jury’s report released on Thursday.

The report offers the first insight into the work of the special purpose grand jury, which was convened in May last year. The 23 jurors and three alternates heard from 75 witnesses during the course of its investigation.

The Georgia case, led by the Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, is believed to be one of the most likely scenarios in which the former president, and some of his allies, could face charges for efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 US election.

“A majority of the Grand Jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it. The Grand Jury recommends that the District Attorney seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling,” the grand jurors wrote. The sections released on Thursday do not name the witnesses or provide any other details.

A judge also released the introduction and conclusion to the report, neither of which provide substantive insight into whether Trump or allies will face criminal charges. The judge has declined to release the full report until Willis decides whether to bring charges.

The introduction details the special grand jury’s process and says it ultimately unanimously concluded “no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election”. It also says the grand jurors heard “extensive testimony on the subject of alleged election fraud from poll workers, investigators, technical experts, and State of Georgia employees and officials, as well as from persons still claiming that such fraud took place”.

The conclusion acknowledges that Willis, the prosecutor, has discretion to seek charges outside of what the grand jury recommends.

“If this report fails to include any potential violations of referenced statutes that were shown in the investigation, we acknowledge the discretion of the District Attorney to seek indictments where she finds sufficient cause,” the report says. “Furthermore this Grand Jury contained no election law experts or criminal lawyers. The majority of this Grand Jury used their collective best efforts, however, to attend every session, listen to every witness, and attempt to understand the facts as presented and the laws as explained.”

The work of the special purpose grand jury is being closely watched because it ultimately could lead to the first criminal charges against Trump for his actions after the 2020 election. A special purpose grand jury is convened for an indefinite amount of time and can subpoena witnesses, but not issue indictments.

The investigation is meant to determine whether Donald Trump and allies violated Georgia state law in their efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Trump infamously called the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, and requested that he “find” votes in his favor. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have because we won the state,” he said in a January 2021 phone call.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, has also been informed he is a target of the investigation. Sixteen people who served as fake electors from Georgia are also reportedly targets of the investigation.

The decision over whether to bring charges is ultimately up to Willis, a Democrat in her first term as the Fulton county district attorney. Willis said at a court hearing last month that a decision on whether to bring charges was “imminent”.

Trump and allies could face a range of criminal charges under Georgia law. It is a crime in Georgia to solicit someone to commit election fraud or to interfere with the performance of official election duties. Willis could also bring charges under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (Rico) Act to charge Trump’s confidantes with crimes as part of a broader conspiracy to overturn the election. Willis hired a lawyer who specializes in Rico to assist her with the investigation.

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( With inputs from : www.theguardian.com )

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