Timeline: Key moments from the Fulton DA’s Trump probe

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks in her downtown office on Thursday, February 3, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks in her downtown office on Thursday, February 3, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

While investigations of former President Donald Trump in New York and on Capitol Hill have generated a steady drip of headlines, it’s the probe launched last year in Fulton County that’s seen by some legal experts as the most potentially damaging.

Since Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis announced her inquiry in February 2021, public updates have been few and far between. Prosecutors’ work is expected to speed up with the impaneling of a special purpose grand jury.

Here are the key developments so far:

Jan. 1, 2021

Veteran prosecutor Fani Willis is sworn in as Fulton County’s district attorney, becoming the first woman to hold the job. She had punched her ticket months earlier by soundly defeating her one-time boss, the six-term incumbent Paul Howard, in the Democratic primary runoff.

Jan. 2, 2021

Then-President Donald Trump, scrambling to challenge election results in several swing states, calls Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. During the leaked hourlong conversation, Trump urges Raffensperger to “find” the nearly 12,000 votes to reverse his narrow defeat in Georgia.

Feb. 10, 2021

Willis announces that her office is launching a criminal investigation into alleged attempts by Trump to change the outcome of the 2020 election in Georgia. She urges Raffensperger and others the president contacted, including Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr, to preserve documents that could be relevant to the probe.

She said the investigation includes but is not limited to “potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”

Willis said her office is best suited to handle the investigation since all of the state’s other investigative agencies with jurisdiction, including the secretary of state and attorney general’s offices, have conflicts because their leaders had been contacted by Trump and were potential witnesses.

April 28, 2021

Gov. Brian Kemp appoints a special counsel to represent the secretary of state as tensions appear to increase between Raffensperger’s office and prosecutors.

Jan. 20, 2022

Willis requests a special purpose grand jury to aid in her investigation of Trump. She tells members of Fulton County’s Superior Court that a “significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony.” She singles out Raffensperger, who would presumably be the case’s star witness. He has declined to be interviewed without a subpoena, though several of his aides have voluntarily spoken with prosecutors.

Willis later told the AJC that at least 30 people had declined to testify without a subpoena.

Jan. 24, 2022

A majority of the judges on the Fulton County Superior Court bench greenlight Willis’ request for a special purpose grand jury, which can meet for a period “not to exceed 12 months.”

Jan. 29, 2022

During a rally in Conroe, Texas, Trump tells supporters to launch “the biggest protest we have ever had” in Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C., if prosecutors “do anything illegal” in their probes of his activities. Trump also called prosecutors “radical” and “racist.” The top investigators leading the four major investigations are Black.

Jan. 30, 2022

Willis asks the head of the FBI’s Atlanta field office to conduct a risk assessment of the Fulton County Courthouse and Government Center and provide other protective resources, such as federal agents and intelligence. She says that security concerns were “escalated” by comments Trump made and that she wants to deter a Jan. 6-style insurrection.

May 2, 2022

Prosecutors begin jury selection for the investigation.

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