The Georgia prosecutor investigating potential efforts by Donald Trump and others to influence last yearâ€™s general election has a message for people who are eager to see whether the former president will be charged: Be patient.
â€œIâ€™m in no rush,â€ Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said this week in an interview with the Associated Press. â€œI think people think that I feel this immense pressure. I donâ€™t.â€
Willis, a Democrat elected in November, sent letters to state officials on 10 February instructing them to preserve records related to the election, particularly those that may contain evidence of attempts to influence elections officials. But she said this week that sheâ€™s not sure where the investigation will go or how long it will take.
Her office confirmed that the probe includes a call in which Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to â€œfindâ€ enough votes to overturn Joe Bidenâ€™s win in the state. Willis also said she has questions about a call US Sen Lindsey Graham made to Raffensperger, the sudden departure of a top federal prosecutor and statements made before Georgia legislative committees.
Kate Brumback reports for the Associated Press that Democrats and a few Republicans have condemned Trumpâ€™s call to Raffensperger, with some critics saying the recording is proof of criminal election interference. State and federal officials have repeatedly said the election was secure and that there was no evidence of systemic fraud.
Willis wrote in the letters to state officials that her office had opened a criminal investigation into â€œpotential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the electionâ€™s administration.â€
After a coronavirus-related pause, two grand juries are to be seated next week, which will allow prosecutors to seek subpoenas.
Following the November general election, Trump refused to accept his loss by about 12,000 votes in Georgia. He and his allies made unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud and hurled insults at Raffensperger, Gov Brian Kemp and Lt Gov Geoff Duncan â€“ all fellow Republicans â€“ for not acting to overturn his loss.
During the call with Raffensperger, Trump also appeared to suggest that Byung J Pak, the Trump-appointed US attorney in Atlanta, was a â€œnever-Trumperâ€ a term often used for conservative critics of Trump. Pak abruptly announced his resignation the day after the call became public. Heâ€™s never publicly explained his departure.
â€œI find it particularly peculiar the way that he left and when he left,â€ Willis said of Pak. â€œItâ€™s something that, to do my job correctly, I have to ask questions about. Thatâ€™s just logical.â€