Raffensperger testifies before Fulton grand jury probing 2020 elections

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger testified before a Fulton County special purpose grand jury on Thursday, the first of a flurry of interviews with top Georgia elections officials that are slated for the week ahead as the district attorney’s probe into the 2020 election speeds up.

Raffensperger, a Republican who recently won his party’s nomination for a second term, checked in at the DA’s office around 9 a.m. He left the Fulton courthouse about five hours later, bypassing the media stationed on the front steps seeking to question him.

A spokesman later said that Raffensperger would not comment on Thursday, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he would return for additional questioning.

Raffensperger is expected to be the star witness in the investigation, which is centered on the phone call that Donald Trump placed to him in January 2021, during which the former president urged Raffensperger to “find” exactly enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s win in Georgia.

The probe has been expanded to include other alleged attempts to influence Georgia’s most recent presidential election, including the sham documents filed by 16 Georgia Republicans who claimed to be alternative Electoral College electors.

For a brief period on Thursday afternoon, Raffensperger’s wife, Tricia, also appeared at the courthouse.

She was with her husband when he received the infamous Trump phone call and received death threats in the aftermath of the 2020 elections. She declined to answer reporters’ questions after spending less than an hour in the building.

Meanwhile, several of Raffensperger’s top deputies are expected to offer their testimony to the 23-person special grand jury in the week ahead, after recently being subpoenaed.

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Ryan Germany, the general counsel for the secretary of state’s office, and Victoria Thompson, who was an executive assistant in late 2020, are slated to testify on Tuesday. Deputy Secretary of State Gabe Sterling and Frances Watson, the former chief investigator for the Secretary of State’s office, will speak to the group on Wednesday, while former elections director Chris Harvey will be interviewed Thursday.

As part of a wave of subpoenas issued by the grand jury last month, the Secretary of State’s office was also asked to provide evidence “that memorializes the events” surrounding the Raffensperger-Trump phone call, a copy of a forensic audit of Georgia’s Dominion voting equipment and other documents.

Others subpoenaed by the special grand jury include Attorney General Chris Carr, who will appear before the group on June 21, and at least two Democratic state senators, Elena Parent and Jen Jordan, who pushed back on testimony provided by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani as his team sought to overturn Georgia’s election results.

Raffensperger has spoken extensively about his actions following the 2020 elections, most notably in his memoir, “Integrity Counts.”

In it, Raffensperger said that he felt like Trump had threatened him during the call, especially when the president said, “all of this stuff is very dangerous stuff when you talk about no criminality. I think it’s very dangerous for you to say that.”

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

“I felt then – and still believe today – that this was a threat,” Raffensperger wrote. “Others obviously thought so, too, because some of Trump’s more radical followers have responded as if it was their duty to carry out this threat.”

He added, “the facts are the facts, and our facts are correct. Therefore, for the office of the secretary of state to ‘recalculate’ would mean we would somehow have to fudge the numbers. The president was asking me to do something that I knew was wrong, and I was not going to do that.”

Trump previously said his call with Raffensperger was “perfect” and complained that he was being singled out by “radical” and “racist” prosecutors in Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C.

Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis previously said that about 50 potential witnesses have refused to testify for her probe without a subpoena. Many of those people are expected to be served summons in the weeks ahead.