On Thursday, Georgia Judge C.I. McBurney released five pages of the report from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s special grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s alleged interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.
The released pages give little if anything away. But to a former federal prosecutor, the tea leaves are there to read, and they say that indictments are coming.
The key sign is in the released section of the report that says, “A majority of the Grand Jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it.” The report goes on to recommend that Willis seek to indict the liar or liars.
Translation: “We are insulted and angry that people think that they can come before us and lie under oath. Please, DA Willis, act so they know they can’t get away with it.”
We don’t know who they are talking about, but here’s a reminder—with no suggestion that any of these people are the individual or individuals to whom the grand jury was referring. All of these witnesses testified before the Georgia grand jury: Sen. Lindsay Graham, former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and National Security advisor Michael Flynn, and Trump and Trump-adjacent attorneys Rudolph Giuliani, John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, Kenneth Chesebro, Boris Epshteyn, and Lin Wood. Another witness was David Shafer, the former head of the Georgia Republican Party. And another of the matters Willis has reportedly investigated was the “fake elector scheme” that the Trump campaign ran in Georgia and six other states. Shafer was one of 16 such phony electors, and all 16 have been told they were targets of Willis’ investigation. (Shafer just announced that he will not run for another term.)
Some of these witnesses may well have taken the Fifth Amendment and said nothing. Either way, at least one of the 75 witnesses who talked to the grand jury about Trump’s alleged actions to undermine Georgia’s election apparently lied.
The hint in the released report’s two sentences about perjury goes further, however, than just a clue about perjury indictments. It also tells us that indictments for the crimes being investigated seem highly likely. That’s because if the grand jurors thought that witnesses lied, they necessarily had a lot of information about violations committed by their targets whom the lying witnesses were protecting. People generally lie to cover up misconduct and grand juries typically will not target the perjury without targeting the underlying misconduct as well.
Recall that the central issue under investigation is Trump’s infamous phone call on Jan. 2, 2021, to Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state. In that call, which Raffensperger wisely taped, Trump said he needed Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” for him— the precise number of votes Trump needed to steal President Joe Biden’s electoral victory in the state.
Mind you, special grand juries like this one only investigate; they cannot issue indictments. They can, however, recommend whether criminal charges should be sought, as they did here. It will be up to Willis to decide what to do with those recommendations.
All of that said, with Judge McBurney’s judicious release, it appears that the rule of law is alive and well in Georgia. We have a court acting with careful balance, letting the public in on select portions of a grand jury’s probe while protecting both sides of the criminal process. No potentially innocent parties are named, and there is no sharing of information that Willis would want to hold close to prevent witness tampering or other interference with an investigation before it is complete.
And then, stage right, we have Fani Willis, a careful prosecutor not pressuring herself to act before she is ready, even when she has said, more than three weeks ago now, “Decisions are imminent.” She knows that if you are going to aim at a king or a former president, you’d best not miss.