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Grand jury flags perjury during Trump election probe

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Donald Trump could be hit with multiple charges in the Georgia probe./AFP
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Feb 17, 2023 - 08:11 AM

WASHINGTON — A grand jury in Georgia probing potential interference by Donald Trump in the 2020 US presidential election found no evidence of voter fraud in the state and believes witnesses may have lied under oath, it said in findings released Thursday.

Prosecutors have spent two years looking into whether Trump and his allies committed crimes in a bid to overturn his defeat in the southern state to Joe Biden by fewer than 12,000 votes.

“A majority of the grand jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it,” the panel said in a report it has been preparing for seven months.

“The grand jury recommends that the district attorney seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling.”

The investigative panel of 23 jurors, which cannot issue indictments, took testimony from 75 witnesses, including Trump’s fourth chief of staff, Mark Meadows, his former attorney Rudy Giuliani and Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ordered on Monday that the introduction and conclusion of the report be made public along with the section about potential perjury.

“We find by a unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election,” the report said.

Its full charging recommendations, including the identities of those in its crosshairs, are being kept secret for now because some of the targets may not yet have had a chance to appear in grand jury proceedings.

Democratic District Attorney Fani Willis will make the ultimate charging decision after presenting the panel’s findings to one of the criminal grand juries regularly empaneled in Fulton County, a process that may already have started.

‘Constitutional duty’ 

The panel probed Trump’s January 2, 2021, phone call with Georgia election officials whom he infamously asked to “find” the 11,780 votes that would put him one vote ahead of Biden.

It also scrutinized efforts by top Trump allies to deputize Republican activists to pose as presidential “electors” at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta in December 2020 and sign certificates falsely claiming Trump had won the state’s election.

Other lines of inquiry took in allegations of false claims of election fraud to state lawmakers, illegal efforts to access voting machines, threats and harassment against Georgia election workers.

Legal experts have speculated that Trump might be charged under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, allowing prosecutors to argue that Trump and his allies were part of a criminal enterprise.

“The president participated in two perfect phone calls regarding election integrity in Georgia, which he is entitled to do,” Trump said in a statement referring to himself in the third person, and taking in a second call that is not under suspicion.

“In fact, as president, it was President Trump’s constitutional duty to ensure election safety, security, and integrity.”

The release comes amid multiple probes into alleged actions by the former president and his lieutenants, who are accused of involvement a multi-step scheme to cling to power despite Trump’s election loss.

A semi-independent prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland has issued subpoenas to Trump administration figures and election officials in Georgia and other swing states as part of a criminal probe of the effort.

Trump’s vice president Mike Pence is among those to have received a summons and CNN reported on Wednesday that Meadows was also subpoenaed in January.

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