Atlanta-area prosecutor tells Georgia GOP chairman he could be charged in election probe
The Atlanta-area district attorney investigating efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to nullify Georgia’s 2020 election sent a targeted letter to state Republican Party Chairman David Shafer warning him that he could be charged as part of his investigation, according to two sources. familiar with the matter.
The letter from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Friday indicates a change from Georgia prosecutors, as they had previously reassured Shafer and other fake voters for Trump that they were considered witnesses, rather that subjects, or targets, in the investigation — a notable distinction that suggests the Atlanta-area attorney did not consider their actions to be criminal at the time, two sources told CNN.
Shafer, who faced investigations from federal investigators, Georgia prosecutors and the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, acted as a pro voter -Trump in Georgia. He also helped organize the fake voters list in the Peach State, which Trump lost by nearly 12,000 votes.
Willis’ office appeared to be trying to determine whether pro-Trump voters in Georgia knew their actions could be a component of a larger and potentially illegal plot to pressure election officials and undo Joe Biden’s victory, a source previously told CNN. .
The letter was first reported by Yahoo News, which also reported that other Georgia officials had received similar target letters.
Georgia has remained the focus of investigators at the state and federal levels. The Atlanta-area investigation was sparked after Trump’s infamous phone call came to light pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the votes needed to tilt the state toward him. The Justice Department is also investigating the fake voter scheme, and a grand jury in Washington issued subpoenas in March relating to fake voters and other issues.
Shafer, who had been cooperating with prosecutors, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shafer told the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot in February that the fake voter scheme came under the direction of the Trump campaign after President Trump lost the state vote. .
CNN previously reported that Rudy Giuliani led Trump campaign officials to direct illegitimate voters as part of a larger plot to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory when Congress counted the electoral votes on Jan. 6.
Also on Friday, Georgia State Senator Burt Jones asked a court to disqualify Willis from any lawsuit against him, arguing that she had a conflict of interest and political bias in her case.
Jones, a Republican, is currently running for lieutenant governor in Georgia. Willis hosted a fundraising campaign for Jones’ Democratic opponent Charlie Bailey last month.
“This support might not have been an issue if she and her office had not simultaneously initiated special purpose grand jury proceedings against Mr. Bailey’s only opponent, Mr. Jones,” the authors wrote. attorneys for Jones in a court filing on Friday. “This is a blatant effort to influence the outcome of the election in favor of Mr. Bailey. Therefore, DA Fani Willis should be disqualified.
Jones, who was involved in the fake voter scheme in Georgia and registered as a pro-Trump voter, became a target in Willis’ investigation, according to a source familiar with the situation and the court filing. of Friday.
If the judge does not disqualify Willis, Jones asked that any special grand jury report be sealed until after the Nov. 8 election, “to avoid inappropriate and undue influence.”
Bailey hammered Jones during the campaign for his involvement in the fake voters plot. Bailey’s campaign spokesman Jake Orvis called Jones’ new court filing an attempt “to distract from the fact that he tried to overthrow the government of the United States.”
Stephen Lawson, a spokesman for Jones’ campaign, said: “This is clearly a politically motivated attack by the same district attorney who just weeks ago staged a fundraiser. policy for Burt’s opponent. Burt is more than happy to do his civic duty and answer questions — but not from a prosecutor with such glaring conflicts of interest.
Willis’ office dismissed the allegations of political bias in a statement Friday.
“The motion is without merit,” Assistant District Attorney Jeff DiSantis said. “The district attorney supports Charlie Bailey because she worked with him as a prosecutor and knows he will support law enforcement as lieutenant governor. Her support for Mr. Bailey has nothing to do with her opponent, and the fact that she fulfilled her oath of office to investigate and prosecute crimes committed in Fulton County has nothing to do with someone else’s election campaign.
DiSantis added, “The District Attorney will respond to Mr. Jones’ motion in court.”
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This story has been updated with additional details.