‘Breakdown’ Ep. 4: ‘A Guilty Mind?’

A possible hurdle to prosecutors in the Trump grand jury probe would be proving criminal intent.

The fourth episode of “The Trump Grand Jury,” the ninth season of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast, focuses on criminal intent.

“A Guilty Mind?” drops Monday as part of the podcast’s continuing coverage of the Fulton County special purpose grand jury that is investigating what Trump and his allies did in Georgia following the 2020 president election.

If a criminal indictment is ultimately brought, prosecutors must show criminal intent – that Trump and others knew what they were doing was illegal and that they meant to break Georgia law.

During a phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, Trump said he needed to “find 11,780 votes.” That was exactly how many he needed to overturn the presidential election results in Georgia.

Trump also told Raffensperger “there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you’ve recalculated” the vote totals.

But Raffensperger held firm, saying he believed in the official vote count, which showed Trump had lost in Georgia.

ExploreThe latest on the Trump grand jury probe

This phone call is at the heart of the special purpose grand jury’s investigation and legal experts are divided on whether it shows Trump had criminal intent. And, somewhat surprisingly, it is not a matter that falls neatly along party lines – even some of Trump’s harshest critics say they don’t see a crime.

Breakdown’s fourth episode also looks at the possible defenses the president could raise if an indictment is returned. No president or former president has ever been indicted. So if this happens the prosecution, the defense and the courts will be breaking new ground.

“There are all kinds of hurdles the prosecution would have to overcome with prosecuting an ex-president,” Atlanta criminal defense attorney Don Samuel says on the podcast. “It wouldn’t surprise me if that ends up in the U.S. Supreme Court before it ever ends up in a courtroom.”

You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from ajc.com.

ExploreListen to previous seasons of the AJC's 'Breakdown' podcast