The Georgia probe into Donald Trump’s bombshell demand that a state official “find” him more votes after the 2020 presidential election is now ramping up, and could expand into consideration of racketeering charges over various GOP attempts to upend the vote.
As many as 50 witnesses are expected to be called before a special grand jury criminal investigation into Republican election interference after Trump lost the presidential election in the state.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has put off stepping on the gas until after primary elections, which were held last week.
But now, “based on her pugnacity, it looks like it’s full steam ahead,” a lawyer whose client has been contacted by Willis’ investigators, told Yahoo News. “She’s much more aggressive and determined than I expected.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger won the GOP primary despite a strong endorsement from Trump for rival Jody Hice.
Raffensperger is the very official whom Trump pressured on the phone to find him enough votes to make him a winner in Georgia — after the election was over and the votes were already counted. “Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break,” Trump pleaded.
Raffensperger denied Trump’s call for votes, and said investigations had proven the election was legitimate. When Trump later lied about the phone call, Raffensperger released a recording of it. Raffensperger is now scheduled to testify before the grand jury and is expected to be a lead witness.
But the potential crimes go far beyond Trump’s phone call. Willis is also weighing racketeering and other possible charges involving a number of activities aimed at throwing out state election results, she told The New York Times.
A key focus will be the slate of fake electors Republicans had created to step in for the legitimate electors. That scheme could lead to fraud charges, Willis indicated.
“There are so many issues that could have come about if somebody participates in submitting a document that they know is false,” she told the Times. “You can’t do that.”
Yahoo also referred to unnamed sources who said the Willis team is examining Trump’s phone call potentially as part of a wide conspiracy using fake claims of voter fraud to intimidate officials and lawmakers to flip the results of the presidential election. Such actions could potentially be prosecuted under a tough state racketeering law. Willis last year brought in outside Atlanta attorney John Floyd, who is a national expert on racketeering.
The Georgia investigation is widely regarded by experts as the biggest legal threat to Trump. In his bombshell phone call, there was no demand for a recount — but merely a demand to “find” just enough votes to put him over the top. His former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was also particularly brazen in a bid to simply shoulder aside legitimate electors for a phony slate to upend the election.
It wouldn’t surprise me for Georgia to become the first jurisdiction to indict a former president on felony charges. I doubt it’ll be the last. And I think the charges will stick. https://t.co/aObNaWDwd3
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) May 27, 2022
Willis has assembled a team of about 10 prosecutors and agents for the probe. Earlier this month a group flew to Washington to meet investigators from the Jan. 6 committee and shared information, a source told Yahoo.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.