Fulton DA clarifies timeline for witness testimony in Trump probe

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Fulton County DA Fani Willis discusses her timeline to call witnesses for alleged Donald Trump 2020 election tampering. Video by Ryon Horne/AJC

Fani Willis says prosecutors have interviewed 50+ people, plan to subpoena 30 more

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis will wait until after the May 24 primaries to call in witnesses to testify about whether former President Donald Trump tried to illegally overturn election results in Georgia in 2020.

Selection of a special grand jury will begin on May 2, but the group won’t hear from witnesses until June 1, Willis said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.

Willis said the four-week gap would give jurors time to approve subpoenas for reluctant witnesses and for the district attorney’s office to deliver those documents into people’s hands. The veteran prosecutor also acknowledged that she’s waiting until after the primaries to avoid the perception that her actions are politically motivated, as her Republican critics allege.

“I don’t want anyone to say ‘oh, she’s doing this because she wants to influence the outcome of this upcoming election,’” the Democrat said. “The people will decide the outcome of this upcoming election. It will have nothing to do with this district attorney’s office.”

ExploreFulton DA seeks FBI’s aid as Trump probe advances

Several of the people Willis is likely to seek an interview with — most notably Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump called on Jan. 2, 2021, requesting that he “find” enough votes to reverse his Georgia defeat — are on the primary ballot this spring. That includes Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr. They also received Trump calls following the November 2020 elections and now face Republican challengers.

Even though Willis is seeking to steer clear of the GOP primary, recent polling shows that Raffensperger and possibly Kemp may be forced into a primary runoff on June 21.

The special grand jury is authorized to meet until spring 2023 but could wrap work earlier.

ExploreFulton DA details next stage of Trump probe

Willis also on Monday clarified for the first time the scope of how many people her team of 10 prosecutors and investigators have spoken to in the 14 months since she launched the probe.

She said that at least 50 people have voluntarily testified before prosecutors and that she plans to seek subpoenas for at least 30 others who had previously declined to be interviewed. She added that there are another 60 or so people her team is hoping to talk to in the weeks ahead.

Willis declined to name the lead prosecutors that she’s assigned to the probe, citing security precautions. She said she recently ordered bulletproof vests for them. She’s also ramped up her personal and office security amid a rash of threats tied to the Trump probe and unrelated gang cases.

In addition to the Trump-Raffensperger call, Willis has indicated that her team is also examining the abrupt resignation of former Atlanta-based U.S. Attorney BJay Pak; a November 2020 call U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., placed to Raffensperger; and false claims made by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani during a hearing before the Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee.

Staff writers Ben Brasch and Bill Rankin contributed to this article.