EXCLUSIVE: Feds sought surveillance video from State Farm Arena in Trump probe

Subpoena shows another area of overlap between DOJ and Fulton prosecutors
Election workers count Fulton County ballots at State Farm Arena on November 4, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Election workers count Fulton County ballots at State Farm Arena on November 4, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Federal prosecutors examining former President Donald Trump’s attempt to hold onto power following the 2020 election requested surveillance and other security footage recorded at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, according to a subpoena obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In a grand jury subpoena dated May 31, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office was directed to hand over “any and all security video or security footage, or any other video of any kind, depicting or taken at or near” State Farm and “any associated data.”

The subpoena, which was obtained by The AJC through an open records request and had not been previously reported, shows the widening interest in Georgia from Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, who sent a so-called “target” letter to Trump on Sunday.

It also demonstrated the growing areas of overlap between the DOJ probe and the Fulton County investigation of interference in Georgia’s 2020 elections, which is expected to result in indictments against Trump and others next month.

Credit: Kenny Holston/The New York Times

Credit: Kenny Holston/The New York Times

Previous subpoenas and grand jury appearances show that Fulton and federal prosecutors are both interested in the appointment of a slate of “alternate” Trump electors in swing states like Georgia, as well as the pressure the former president placed on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs declined to comment on the new subpoena.

“We don’t comment on pending investigations,” Fuchs said. “On Tuesday, November 8, 2022, Georgia voters fully rejected election deniers and like Georgia’s voters, this team is moving on.”

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

This isn’t the first subpoena Raffensperger and his team have received from Smith’s office.

Late last year, a grand jury requested all communications the secretary’s office had with Trump and his campaign between June 2020 and President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021. The jury singled out communications with nearly two-dozen of Trump’s attorneys, including Rudy Giuliani; John Eastman, the architect of the “alternate” electors scheme; and longtime Georgia lawyers Lin Wood and Stefan Passantino.

Members of Smith’s team also traveled to Atlanta last month and interviewed Raffensperger, who was pressed by Trump to “find” nearly 12,000 votes during an infamous recorded phone call on Jan. 2, 2021.

Additonally, they spoke with Chris Harvey, who served as Georgia’s elections director in the secretary of state’s office during the 2020 elections. Harvey on Tuesday declined to discuss what prosecutors asked him about.

‘Have no merit’

The vote count at State Farm Arena has become one of election deniers’ go-to examples of election fraud.

It took off after Giuliani, then Trump’s personal attorney, played portions of the surveillance video to Georgia lawmakers in December 2020, claiming it was “smoking gun” evidence of fraud. His allegations that two poll workers, Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss, were opening “suitcases” full of Biden ballots upended their lives and led to death threats and other harassment.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Federal and state-level investigators interviewed election workers and reviewed hours of footage, determining the video showed normal ballot counting at State Farm. A recent investigation by the state Election Board concluded that the allegations against Freeman and Moss “were unsubstantiated and found to have no merit.” Still, conspiracy theories about the State Farm count continue to circulate.

Freeman and Moss have filed defamation lawsuits against Giuliani and others who spread allegations. They won a settlement from One America News Network, and lawsuits are still pending against Giuliani and Gateway Pundit, a conservative website.

News of Trump’s target letter, which was made public Tuesday, amounted to the strongest signal yet that Smith may seek a second indictment against the Republican presidential candidate in as many months. In June, the Justice Department announced 37 charges against Trump for allegedly mishandling classified documents after he left office. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Even though Willis and Smith appear to be interested in similar sets of events, it doesn’t preclude each of them from bringing their own sets of charges under Georgia and federal laws. They could also coordinate with one another, though there are no public signs that something like that has occurred.

Trump also faces state charges in Manhattan related to “hush money” payments to the porn star Stormy Daniels.

Willis previously said other prosecutions will not impact the Fulton probe.

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