A special purpose grand jury convened in Georgia recommended a slew of additional indictments that went beyond those sought last month by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
According to the grand jury’s report, made public Friday, the panel believed multiple others should be criminally charged for plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 election: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Republicans from Georgia.
They were not ultimately indicted. The panel had significant disagreements about some individuals; the vote to recommend a racketeering-related indictment for Graham broke down to 13 yeas, 7 nays and 1 abstention. For Perdue, the vote broke down to 17 yeas and 4 nays. For Loeffler, there were 14 yeas, 6 nays and 1 abstention.
Perdue was recommended for a second indictment over false statements about the election.
Willis’ exact reasons for seeking the indictments she did are not entirely clear. Flynn was not indictedon racketeering even though the panel overwhelmingly signaled that he should be in a vote of 20 yeas to 1 nay. Trump-allied attorneys Boris Epshteyn, Lin Wood and Cleta Mitchell received the same 20-to-1 vote on the alleged conspiracy but were not ultimately indicted, either.
The panel also considered the roles of more than a dozen “alternate” electors; only three were charged by Willis. (The plot to overturn the results of the election included forming “alternate” slates of Electoral College members who would be loyal to former President Donald Trump and, theoretically, allow his allies in Congress to hand him another term.)
Graham’s alleged offenses stemmed from a highly unusual call he placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) in the days after the 2020 election with questions about mail-in ballots in the state. The senator from South Carolina said Friday that he was “surprised” to hear the Georgia jury wanted him charged.
As a special purpose grand jury, the group did not have the power to indict anyone. Rather, the panel sat for around six months last year to consider potential charges, hearing evidence from 75 witnesses, most of whom were under oath. They wrapped up their work by compiling a final report in January.
Willis then convened a regular grand jury this summer to secure the indictments, which were returned in August and matched many of the recommendations the earlier panel had made.
Trump was hit with criminal charges in Georgia along with his former attorneys Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro and a number of other allies, such as former chief of staff Mark Meadows. All 19 of the defendants pleaded not guilty.
While the court is still wading through pretrial motions, at least two of the defendants — Chesebro and Powell — are scheduled to begin trial Oct. 23.
Footnotes in the special grand jury’s report reveal why individual jurors voted the way they did.
One believed that Perdue and Loeffler should be excluded because their comments, “while pandering to their political base, do not give rise to their being guilty of a criminal conspiracy.”
Two of them thought the “alternate” electors should be spared because they were “doing what they were misled to understand as their civic duty.”
The panel concluded by noting: “This Grand Jury contained no election law experts or criminal lawyers. The majority of this Grand Jury used their collective best efforts, however, to attend every session, listen to every witness, and attempt to understand the facts as presented and the laws as explained.”
The foreperson for the jury, Emily Kohrs, received some criticism after her service for agreeing to a string of media interviews in which she hinted at the group’s conclusions.
“You’re not going to be shocked. It’s not rocket science,” Kohrs told The New York Times back in February. “You won’t be too surprised.”