Former President Donald Trump’s phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, set into motion one of the biggest legal proceedings in the state’s history. During that call, which included Trump’s chief of staff and some of his lawyers, Trump told Raffensperger to “find” him 11,780 votes to overturn the 2020 election results.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis convened a special purpose grand jury to investigate the actions of Trump and his allies, and to ultimately recommend whether Willis should seek criminal charges.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s award-winning ‘Breakdown’ podcast returns for its ninth season – The Trump Grand Jury – to cover that investigation as well as other events in Georgia that happened in the weeks following Election Day. Legal affairs reporter Bill Rankin returns as the podcast’s host and is joined by senior reporter Tamar Hallerman, who covered the Trump White House when she was the newspaper’s Washington correspondent.
You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from ajc.com at the links below. (For more coverage of the Fulton County criminal case involving Donald Trump and election interference, listen to Season 10 of “Breakdown” here.)
EPISODE 1: The Jan. 2nd phone call: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was sitting in his kitchen on the afternoon of Jan. 2, 2021, when he received a phone call from the White House. President Donald Trump, his chief of staff and some of his lawyers were on the line. During the conversation, Trump told Raffensperger to “find” him 11,780 votes to overturn the election results. That was one more than the 11,779-vote margin that gave Georgia’s 16 electoral college votes to President Joe Biden and turned Georgia Democratic for the first time since 1992. Episode One explores what happened during the phone call between Trump and Raffensperger as well as another call made to Frances Watson, the Secretary of State’s lead elections investigator. Both conversations were recorded.
EPISODE 2: A force of nature: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis grew up in courtrooms, tagging along with her father, an attorney. When Willis became a prosecutor, she rose through the ranks at the Fulton DA’s Office prosecuting homicide and sexual assault cases. Now she’s the woman who is overseeing the investigation of former President Donald Trump and his allies. Also, we explain exactly how a special purpose grand jury operates and what it can and cannot do. And we tell listeners how they will know if, after it adjourns, it is recommending criminal charges be brought.
EPISODE 3: Is there a criminal case? Legal experts discuss a number of incidents, including Trump’s Jan. 2, 2021, call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; his lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s testimony before state legislative committees; and the slate of fake electors who met in secret at the state Capitol the same day Democrats cast Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes for Biden. As to whether Trump broke the law, it depends on who you ask.
EPISODE 4: A guilty mind? If a criminal indictment is ultimately brought against Trmp, prosecutors must show criminal intent – that he and others knew what they were doing was illegal and that they meant to break Georgia law. The Jan. 2 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. This episode also looks at the possible defenses the president could raise if an indictment is returned.
EPISODE 5: The out-of-state witness subpoenas: Recapping a busy week, there are a flurry of witnesses coming in to testify about what happened at the state Capitol in the weeks after the November 2020 presidential election. There is a courtroom scuffle over legislative immunity. And there is the issuance of seven out-of-state material witness subpoenas that penetrate former president Trump’s inner circle.
EPISODE 6: One for the history books: We examine past criminal cases involving presidents and vice presidents. One sitting president was placed under arrest for speeding. Two former presidents came extremely close to being indicted, one from an investigation arising from the Watergate scandal, the other from the Whitewater controversy. But no president or former president has ever been indicted.
EPISODE 7: Planting the seeds of truth: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and a top aide, Gabe Sterling, sit for an interview about the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath. The episode also examines a surprise ruling that bars DA Fani Willis and her office from calling lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Burt Jones before the grand jury or considering him to be a target of the investigation.
EPISODE 8: Trump’s new legal team: Trump has assembled a legal team to defend him before the Fulton County special purpose grand jury, including Atlanta lawyer Drew Findling, nationally known for representing hip-hop superstars. The episode also covers former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s attempt to delay his testimony before the Fulton grand jury.
EPISODE 9: The pinball machine: The Fulton County DA’s office deals with a flurry of efforts to delay or avoid testifying before the special grand jury. But are these tactics having any effect?
EPISODE 10: Closing In: Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, has been served with an out-of-state witness subpoena to appear before the Fulton special grand jury.
EPISODE 11: Will Trump be invited? What are the pros and cons of compelling the former president to testify before the Fulton special purpose grand jury?
EPISODE 12: Breakdown Bonus: What happened in Coffee County: In a special bonus episode, Breakdown hosts ask how the Coffee County elections data breach happened, why news of it first came to light this past May and why state elections officials should be alarmed.
EPISODE 13: ‘Who’s Rico?’ Get to know the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and how it’s been used by Fulton prosecutors in recent years
EPISODE 14: Breakdown Bonus: Torpy and Murphy: AJC columnists Bill Torpy and Patricia Murphy sit down to discuss the special purpose grand jury, and the Fulton DA office files two sensitive court filings.
EPISODE 15: It’s Newt’s Turn: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former national security advisor Michael Flynn are the latest to receive out-of-state material witness subpoenas.
EPISODE 16: The Phony Slate: They attempted to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020; now they’re targets of the Fulton special purpose grand jury probe. We hear from three reporters — the AJC’s Greg Bluestein, Channel 2 Action News’ Richard Elliot and independent journalist George Chidi — who stumbled across the GOP meeting where the GOP “electors” cast votes that were later sent to Congress and the National Archives.
EPISODE 17: What Trump Knew: The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol produced hours of spellbinding television and its share of shocking revelations. Legal experts say it has also presented testimony that could help Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, should she decide to press charges against former President Donald Trump and his allies.
EPISODE 18: Eastman’s Prophecy: In an email sent Dec. 31, 2020, attorney John Eastman shared a thought with fellow members of then-President Donald Trump’s legal team about a potential investigation of the 2020 election. Now, he, the former president and other members of the legal team now find themselves under investigation by the Fulton County special purpose grand jury.
EPISODE 19: The Referee: AJC columnist Bill Torpy interviews Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, the man tasked with keeping the Fulton grand jury proceedings on track. The episode also includes interviews with two authors of a Brookings Institute report on the Trump investigation. And it covers a hearing for Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who has been summoned to testify here in Atlanta.
EPISODE 20: Breakdown Bonus: It’s All Politics: In a far-reaching interview, AJC political reporter Greg Bluestein weighs in on the Fulton County probe in light of Trump’s recent announcement to run again for president, the possible impact of the investigation on the Georgia Republican party and the potential fate of the 16 Republican “fake electors.”
EPISODE 21: The Final Presentment: As the Fulton County special purpose grand jury investigation winds down, it’s highly likely it is putting together its report and recommendations, formally called a presentment. Here’s what to expect.
EPISODE 22: Its Work Is Done: In an order signed Jan. 9, Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said the special grand jury had finished writing its final report — which, if it recommends bringing charges against the former president, could be one of the most consequential legal documents in recent U.S. history. But will the final report be released to the public, and would some information have to be redacted?
EPISODE 23: ‘Decisions Are Imminent’: Fani Willis gives clues that her office may bring indictments. We speak to one former Atlanta prosecutor who thinks that would be a dangerous precedent. Also, we cover the hearing to decide whether the special purpose grand jury’s final report will be made public.
EPISODE 24: The Fulton Special Grand Jury Report: In this special podcast crossover edition, Politically Georgia host Patricia Murphy joins Breakdown hosts Tamar Hallerman and Bill Rankin to discuss the special grand jury report. The group will explain what we now know and what we have yet to learn from the nearly eight-month investigation.
EPISODE 25: Reading Between the Lines: What can be learned from the three short excerpts that were made public from the Fulton County special purpose grand jury’s final report?
EPISODE 26: The Forewoman Emerges: Emily Kohrs, forewoman of the Fulton County special purpose grand jury, sits for an interview about the panel’s investigation.
EPISODE 27: Inside the Special Grand Jury: Five or the 23 jurors speak to Bill Rankin and Tamar Hallerman. The jurors, who remain anonymous, discuss their experiences and give insights to the inner workings of the jury’s process.
EPISODE 28: Donald Trump’s NY indictment and what it means for Georgia: In this special podcast crossover edition, Politically Georgia host Patricia Murphy joins Breakdown hosts Bill Rankin and Tamar Hallerman to discuss the first indictment of a former president and what it means to the Fulton County investigation into alleged criminal meddling with the 2020 election.
EPISODE 29: Save the Date: Fulton DA Fani Willis alerts local police that announcements will come this summer. In doing so, she drops clues about indictments in Trump probe, even suggesting that her office will seek an indictment against the former president himself.
EPISODE 30: We’re Still Waiting: In the wake of his indictment in Miami in the classified documents case, Donald Trump returns to Georgia. And new disclosures are revealed in the Fulton County case, involving data firms the Trump campaign hired after the 2020 election and the slate of “alternate” Georgia GOP electors who cast Electoral College votes for Trump.
EPISODE 31: What’s Next?: In the final episode of the season, we examine the most recent federal indictment against Donald Trump in Washington and look ahead to what is about to happen in Fulton County.
For more coverage of the Fulton County criminal case involving Donald Trump and election interference, listen to Season 10 of “Breakdown” here.