OPINION: Fulton DA looks to go Whole Ham on Trump

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, right, talks with a member of her team during proceedings to seat a special purpose grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, on Monday, May 2, 2022, to look into the actions of former President Donald Trump and his supporters who tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The hearing took place in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, right, talks with a member of her team during proceedings to seat a special purpose grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, on Monday, May 2, 2022, to look into the actions of former President Donald Trump and his supporters who tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The hearing took place in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

It’s said the grand jury process is so tilted to the side of prosecutors that any half-witted district attorney could “indict a ham sandwich.”

If so, then former President Donald Trump is the whole ham in the Fulton County case — butt, shank and bone.

On Monday, District Attorney Fani Willis’ now-famous special purpose grand jury was seated. The “special purpose” is Trump, although she says its focus is “anything connected with interference of the 2020 election.”

That means Madam DA, as she likes being called, aims to go after the entire clown show that rolled into Georgia in late 2020.

Willis is looking at Trump’s call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger when he tried to shake down the Georgia pol for an additional 11,780 votes.

But the Teflon Don is simply the headliner of this legal extravaganza. Prosecutors will also probe why Atlanta-based U.S. Attorney BJay Pak got run off from his job; a November 2020 call that U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham placed to Raffensperger; the baloney that Rudy Giuliani served up to a Georgia Senate committee; and the fake Electoral College electors that included state GOP chairman David Shafer.

It’s truly an all-star cast.

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U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, at podium, thanks former President Donald Trump, right, during a rally for Georgia GOP candidates at Banks County Dragway in Commerce, Ga., Saturday, March 26, 2022. (Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Credit: Hyosub Shin

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, at podium, thanks former President Donald Trump, right, during a rally for Georgia GOP candidates at Banks County Dragway in Commerce, Ga., Saturday, March 26, 2022. (Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Credit: Hyosub Shin

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U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, at podium, thanks former President Donald Trump, right, during a rally for Georgia GOP candidates at Banks County Dragway in Commerce, Ga., Saturday, March 26, 2022. (Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Willis, of course, has not said, “I’m coming after Trump.” But she’s certainly swinging for the fences and I fully expect her to go try to get Trump indicted.

She wouldn’t have gone this far if she wasn’t going for it.

A special grand jury can’t indict anyone. It can issue subpoenas to recalcitrant witnesses — mostly anyone with an “R” after their name — demand evidence and even go out on investigatory tangents.

If the panel thinks there’s enough there, Willis could go to a regular grand jury to seek an indictment. Remember the ham sandwich is being served up in a county that went 73% for President Joe Biden.

Conventional wisdom says that, if indicted, it would be impossible to find 12 jurors to unanimously to convict Trump, given the wide political divide. Even progressives like defense attorney Don Samuel and Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Lewis think Willis is wasting her time on an unwinnable case.

But there are many who’d simply love to view Trump’s mugshot shot from the environs of Fulton’s jail.

Willis is a fearless prosecutor and politician — she ran against, and defeated, a six-term incumbent. And she often tried that office’s biggest cases. The State v. Donald J. Trump is as big as it gets.

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With a handful of Georgia county elections directors behind him, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announces the start of a hand recount of the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election during a briefing outside of the Georgia State Capitol building in downtown Atlanta on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

With a handful of Georgia county elections directors behind him, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announces the start of a hand recount of the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election during a briefing outside of the Georgia State Capitol building in downtown Atlanta on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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With a handful of Georgia county elections directors behind him, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announces the start of a hand recount of the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election during a briefing outside of the Georgia State Capitol building in downtown Atlanta on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

After coming to office in 2021, Willis beefed up her gang prosecution team, hiring Mike Carlson, an organized crime specialist, and RICO connoisseur John Floyd. She said she’d send a message to gang members.

She’s saying the same about the 2020 election.

“I’m very concerned that if behavior that is illegal goes unchecked,” she told CNN, “then it can lead to a very bad patch.”

I called Albert Trujillo, the foreman of a special grand jury that investigated corruption in DeKalb County almost a decade ago.

In that case, the grand jurors connected with then-District Attorney Robert James. “We saw him as an honest man trying to root out corruption,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo said the DA would make his points “then turn to us and ask if there’s any questions we wanted to ask.” Once, as the DeKalb police chief testified, “I asked him if there was any quota on traffic tickets. He looked at me like he wanted to kill me but he had to answer honestly.”

The chief admitted there was.

Former DeKalb District Attorney J. Tom Morgan had two special grand juries investigating the 2000 assassination of Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown, a case that led to a murder conviction of outgoing sheriff Sid Dorsey.

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DeKalb County Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown, left, was murdered at the direction and Sidney Dorsey, the outgoing sheriff, in 2000. (File photos)

DeKalb County Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown, left, was murdered at the direction and Sidney Dorsey, the outgoing sheriff, in 2000. (File photos)

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DeKalb County Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown, left, was murdered at the direction and Sidney Dorsey, the outgoing sheriff, in 2000. (File photos)

Morgan said the hiring of RICO expert Floyd, who worked the Dorsey case, indicates Willis will drag a wide net.

“This case is not like Dorsey,” Morgan said. “In that, there was a crime committed and we had to prosecute who did it. Here, you have to figure out if a crime was committed. That’s a much harder burden.”

But he noted that special grand jurors can be like a test drive for the later criminal case. In the Dorsey case, grand jurors learned he sent deputies on county time to Tennessee to unlock his daughter’s car. Or that he sent deputies to McDonald’s to take Happy Meals to his kid’s school because the child didn’t like the cafeteria fare.

“Women on the grand jury were outraged,” he said. “They were like, ‘I don’t even have child care, much less deputies to go to McDonalds.’ “

“It showed us what meant a lot to ordinary people,” Morgan said.

We’ll have to see what Fulton’s ordinary folks tell us.

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