Sham Georgia GOP electors face potential charges in Fulton probe

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

All 16 Republicans who cast fake Electoral College votes sent ‘target’ letters

The scope of the Fulton County grand jury investigation into Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election came into clearer focus as court filings Tuesday indicated that all 16 phony Georgia Republican electors have been informed they could face criminal charges.

The filings were the latest signal that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation is circling the GOP electors who gathered at the state Capitol in December 2020 as part of a sham ceremony to further Trump’s push to reverse his defeat to Joe Biden.

The records for the first time showed that 14 additional GOP electors have received letters from Fulton County prosecutors notifying them they’re targets of their criminal investigation into the aftermath of Georgia’s 2020 elections and could be prosecuted.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported that two other high-ranking officials — state Sen. Burt Jones, the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, and Georgia GOP chair David Shafer — have also received so-called “target” letters.

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Willis’ office didn’t immediately comment. Another official, state Sen. Brandon Beach, has also received a similar letter, as officials say he helped organize the process as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and Georgia electors.

The 14 additional electors facing prosecutorial scrutiny are: Mark Amick, Joseph Brannan, Ken Carroll, Brad Carver, Vicki Consiglio, John Downey, Carolyn Fisher, Kay Godwin, David Hanna, Mark Hennessy, Cathleen Latham, Daryl Moody, Shawn Still and C.B. Yadav.

Attorneys representing 11 of those electors filed a motion to block their grand jury subpoenas for appearances beginning next week as “unreasonable and oppressive.”

In the filing, the attorneys note that a prosecutor in late June “informed us for the first time that all of these eleven nominee electors were suddenly targets” as the “investigation has matured and new evidence has come to light.”

“The abrupt, unsupportable and public elevation of all eleven nominee electors’ status wrongfully converted them from witnesses who were cooperating voluntarily and prepared to testify in the Grand jury to persecuted targets of it,” wrote the attorneys, Holly Pierson and Kimberly Bourroughs Debrow.

The filing said the electors “reluctantly” invoked their 5th Amendment rights after receiving the target letters. And the document defended their actions, citing as precedent the appointment of Democratic electors in Hawaii following the 1960 elections whose ballots for John F. Kennedy were tallied after a recount.

“The unavoidable conclusion is that the nominee electors’ change of status was not precipitated by new evidence or an honestly-held belief that they have criminal exposure, but instead an improper desire to force them to publicly invoke their rights as, at best, a publicity stunt,” Pierson and Debrow wrote.

Willis confirmed that her office informed all 16 GOP electors that they were targets in a separate legal motion on Tuesday afternoon.

Last week Jones filed a motion in Fulton County Superior Court seeking to disqualify Willis, citing a recent fundraiser she hosted to boost Charlie Bailey, an ex-Fulton prosecutor who is Jones’ Democratic opponent.

“Burt is more than happy to perform his civic duty and answer questions — but not from a prosecutor with such blatant conflicts of interest,” spokesman Stephen Lawson has said.

In a filing posted on Tuesday afternoon, Anna Green Cross, a counsel for the Fulton DA’s office, argued that Jones’ challenge should be dismissed because the Republican “has failed to identify any personal interest on behalf of the District Attorney or any other prosecutor that meets the legal criteria for disqualification.” Cross said that Willis treated Jones “identically” to the 15 other GOP electors who were named as targets.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who’s overseeing the special grand jury, will hold a hearing on Jones’ motion on Thursday.

In their filing, Pierson and Debrow — who are not representing Jones —wrote that they support removing Willis from the investigation, as well as a secondary request that McBurney embargo the special grand jury’s final recommendations until after the November elections.

Pierson and Debrow cited comments that Willis made to the AJC earlier this month in which the DA said that, “we have informed some that they are being looked at as a target — or let me say more clearly, we’ve told people’s lawyers that.”

The electors think Willis was discussing them, running afoul of the prosecutorial custom to refrain from making extrajudicial comments. But Willis during the interview declined to specify to whom she was referring, nor did she disclose who she’s targeting in the investigation.

The false slate of 16 electors have become a major point of interest of the Fulton County special grand jury examining whether Trump or his allies broke any state laws as they sought to reverse Biden’s win in Georgia. Some legal experts say those GOP electors may have violated election fraud and forgery statutes, among others.

Investigators in Washington, both for the select committee examining the Jan. 6 attack and at the Justice Department, have also taken notice. Federal prosecutors recently subpoenaed Shafer and others for information about the fake electors.

It’s just one facet of a growing probe. The grand jury has also recently subpoenaed members of Trump’s inner circle, including attorney Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Graham was scheduled to challenge his subpoena in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday. But the senator and Willis announced on Tuesday that they had struck an agreement allowing for arguments to instead take place in Atlanta, either in Fulton Superior Court or U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

A judge from the latter is scheduled to hear a separate subpoena challenge from another congressman, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro, on Monday. Like Graham, Hice is citing the Constitution’s “Speech or Debate” clause to argue that he can’t be forced to testify about matters that directly relate to his legislative duties.

House Speaker David Ralston, meanwhile, recently testified before the grand jury amid questions about a special state legislative hearing that featured false claims of election fraud.