Grand jury testimony resumes in Fulton’s Trump probe

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger exits his vehicle before walking into Fulton County Courthouse on Thursday, June 2, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

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Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger exits his vehicle before walking into Fulton County Courthouse on Thursday, June 2, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Additional officials disclose subpoenas, showing wide reach of investigation

Witness testimony resumed Tuesday at the Fulton County courthouse as part of District Attorney Fani Willis’s investigation of Georgia’s 2020 elections.

In-person meetings of the special purpose grand jury focused on the actions of former President Donald Trump and his allies had been delayed a week due to a logistical issue, according to a source with knowledge, but now the 23-person panel is making up for lost time.

Over the next several weeks the jury is expected to hear a blizzard of testimony from a handful of current and former aides to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whose appearances were originally scheduled for last week. It is also scheduled to question Attorney General Chris Carr, several Democratic state legislators and at least two county-level elections officials from metro Atlanta.

But who exactly is coming in when is unclear. Spokesmen for the Fulton DA’s office and the Secretary of State’s office declined to comment. All grand jury testimony is designed to be secret.

Despite not knowing who was on the day’s schedule, several television crews waited on the courthouse steps on Tuesday to see who might be walking in to give testimony. Attorneys and cops walked up the courthouse stairs the same as residents wearing black dress shoes or Adidas slides — all beading with sweat in the muggy June morning.

There are untold ways to get in and out of the building without being seen, unlike Raffensperger two weeks ago when he was photographed walking up the steps before testifying. No one who has testified so far has made themselves available for an interview with any journalist.

Among the officials who were requested to appear this week were Erica Hamilton, the former DeKalb County elections director who now works in Cobb, and Janine Eveler, Cobb County’s director of elections and registration, according to copies of their subpoenas obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While Trump was most fixated on Fulton County as the vote count was underway, he was also deeply interested in Cobb, where an audit of 15,000 absentee ballots was conducted.

As recently as last fall, he pointed to DeKalb as the site of alleged widespread voter fraud. In a September 2021 letter to Raffensperger urging him to take the unprecedented step of decertifying Georgia’s election results, Trump alleged that 43,000 absentee ballots were in violation of Georgia’s chain of custody rule and were thus invalid, citing a report from the pro-Trump site the Georgia Star News.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Bee Nguyen, D-Atlanta, confirmed on Tuesday that she has also received a subpoena to testify before the grand jury next week, just two days after her runoff for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state.

Nguyen is a member of the state House Governmental Affairs Committee, which in December 2020 heard conspiracy-laden testimony from Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani about Georgia’s vote count that’s of interest to prosecutors. At least two other Democrats who heard Giuliani’s testimony in front of another committee, state Sens. Jen Jordan and Elena Parent, confirmed they’ve been subpoenaed.

Showcasing just how broad Willis is going with her investigation, prosecutors are also reportedly seeking testimony from Trevian Kutti, a former publicist for Kanye West and R. Kelly who last year allegedly pressured a Fulton County poll worker, CNN reported.

In January 2021, Kutti showed up at the Cobb County home of Ruby Freeman, a Fulton elections worker and grandmother who received death threats after Trump accused her of manipulating ballots at State Farm Arena. Election investigations and publicly available videos showed no improprieties.

Kutti claimed to be a crisis manager sent by a “high-profile individual” and told Freeman to confess to committing election fraud or risk being arrested, according to Reuters.

Among the state officials who could also testify as soon as this week are Deputy Secretary of State Gabe Sterling; Frances Watson, the former chief investigator for the Secretary of State’s office; and Ryan Germany, the office’s general counsel.

Other legislators are expecting to receive subpoenas from the grand jury imminently. Many are likely to invoke legislative privilege and immunity — which shields members of the statehouse from most judicial scrutiny for actions carried out as part of their official duties — and try to quash any subpoenas.