Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney is set to preside over the selection of a grand jury Tuesday in Fulton County’s investigation into 2020 election interference in Georgia.
The investigation brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis focuses on actions in the state by then-President Trump and his allies amid his 2020 election loss to now-President Biden.
Willis is reportedly focusing on phone calls made to Georgia officials by Trump and his allies; false statements made by Trump associates before Georgia legislative committees; a panel of 16 Republicans who signed a certificate falsely stating that Trump had won the state and that they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors; the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta in January 2021; alleged attempts to pressure a Fulton County election worker; and breaches of election equipment in a rural south Georgia county.
The grand jury of up to 23 jurors that’s to be empaneled Tuesday will decide whether Willis has enough evidence to move her case forward and just who—if anyone—should face indictment. The burden of proof for a grand jury to bring charges is much lower than that for a jury that must decide guilty or innocence, which is not among the grand jury’s duties.
A memo to McBurney by Willis in May suggests she’s looking at an August target date to potentially charge Trump and others. In it, she wrote that she plans to have 70% of her staff working remotely between July 31 and August 18, adding that those who will remain in the courthouse then will include leadership staff and “all armed investigators.”
Willis’ prosecution reportedly was sparked by Trump’s phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2, 2021, during which the then-President pressured his fellow Republican, who recorded the call, saying, “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.”
Trump has denied any wrongdoing related to Georgia’s 2020 election. In March Trump attorneys had sought to quash an earlier grand jury’s partial report into their investigation and asserted that Willis should be removed from the case.
Willis, however, has said her case will go wherever the evidence leads. She has told local media in Atlanta, “If we should find that there was criminal interference in the election, then we are hopeful that the grand jury will see it appropriate to recommend indictment.”