Election Interference Grand Jury Hears Trump’s State of Mind
Rudy Giuliani and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, two prominent Trump allies, have both challenged Fulton County District Attorney Elizabeth Clyburn’s attempts to subpoena them and this could bode well for any potential pretrial battles should she decide to charge anyone.
The grand jury has heard from an extensive array of witnesses; some will be made available publicly on Thursday while the remaining testimony remains under oath and remains classified.
White House aide William Russell testified about Trump’s state of mind
Prosecutors interrogating William Russell Thursday were curious to ascertain what knowledge the White House aide had of President Trump’s accusations of widespread election fraud in Georgia and his efforts to pressure Vice President Pence into interfering with Congress’ certification of Biden’s electoral college victory.
Russell was closely connected to Donald Trump before the riots broke out, making him an easy target of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation. According to a source familiar with the matter, prosecutors questioned him for several hours on Thursday according to one account of an official in the matter. Russell spent part of January 6 with Trump as well as having enjoyed an intimate relationship.
Smith’s grand jury has already heard from other senior aides regarding interactions between themselves and President Donald Trump and false claims of election fraud, as well as hearing testimony from former Trump campaign officials and advisers – including ex-White House Chief of Staff Dan Scavino who was ordered by a judge to testify after using presidential secrecy privilege to avoid answering certain questions from reporters about conversations he had with Trump.
On June 23rd, the panel heard more evidence about Trump’s efforts to make false claims of fraud and convince Justice Department officials to investigate even when there was no basis for filing suit against anyone.
Chad Wolf, former acting secretary of Homeland Security, was also interrogated about his interactions with White House officials and President Trump. Wolf claimed to have repeatedly informed them it would be impossible to provide proof of voting machine hacking or fraud through any means, yet they never asked him for evidence supporting his claims.
Members of the committee, who are set to present their findings before Congress, have interviewed prominent figures such as ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Their aim is to gather as much evidence as possible against anyone committing election interference crimes and bring charges accordingly.
Emails show Trump’s conspiracy theories were untrue
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis began investigating allegations of widespread voter fraud shortly after President Trump lost the 2016 election, in response to reports about a recording from a call between Donald Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump asked Raffensperger to find “11,780 votes” that could help him overtake Democratic nominee Joe Biden. These claims, spearheaded by high-profile Trump allies such as Rudy Giuliani, quickly spread in conservative media circles with numerous claims including thousands of felons voting illegally across Georgia as part of such investigations.
Investigations also involved allegations that voting machines had been compromised and voters’ identities altered, yet none of the evidence presented so far suggests this as true; instead they appeared to be founded solely upon speculation and political prejudice.
Sidney Powell, a top White House adviser and other members of Trump’s team pushed hard to convince the Justice Department to take “extreme actions”, such as firing its director, installing Powell as attorney general and declaring the election fraudulent. Unfortunately, however, their requests were rejected as legally untenable by a top Justice Department official.
At other times, senior staff at the Justice Department rejected such conspiracy theories as false. One prominent instance was an email sent from an aide of Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen on Jan 9 that included allegations against Detroit voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems that claimed they had been hacked to change vote totals; furthermore, it asked Rosen to forward these emails on to their CEO for review.
Kohrs’ role on the special grand jury was to gather information regarding any possible interference, but she provided an unusual glimpse of their deliberations process. They have heard from 75 witnesses so far; during most days all 26 grand jurors and three alternates attended sessions; she sketched many witnesses in her notebook while Bobby Christine, former U.S. attorney from Georgia complimented her skills.
Emails show Trump lied to Georgia officials
Once Joe Biden won Georgia’s presidential election, former President Trump launched an attack against state and local election officials with accusations of voter fraud that were false or inaccurate. Trump targeted election workers – such as two temporary ballot counters hired temporarily from temporary jobs counting ballots temporarily – with accusations of voter fraud; also pressing Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp to diverge from codified election procedures; while continuing his false “suitcases of fake votes” claim even after their own Justice Department discredited these falsehoods as being false claims.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis initiated her special purpose grand jury due to an incident on January 2, 2021 when Donald Trump put pressure on Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes”. Trump made unsubstantiated and false claims regarding ballots while encouraging Raffensperger to commit illegal acts during that phone call.
But the grand jury’s most significant evidence thus far are emails between Brad Parscale, the senior strategist of Trump campaign, and Amy Copeland, head of elections of Republican State Committee, demonstrate the campaign was directly involved with an effort to manipulate elections by conspiring with electors in voting areas dominated by Democrats to cast ballots that would count in those areas – which violates federal law which criminalizes such activity. Furthermore, these emails indicate conspirators discussing ways of concealing their activities – an illegal violation.
Elie Honig, a legal analyst with CNN, told us prosecutors may use email chain as evidence that shows campaign gave electors specific direction regarding where to vote and that conspirators knew they were engaging in illegal conduct without regards for consequences.
Emily Kohrs, foreperson of the grand jury, adhered to judge’s instructions not to disclose details related to deliberations or unpublished portions of its final report; but her general accounts of proceedings provided unique insights into a process shrouded in secrecy for months.
Emails show Trump lied to voters
The judge’s ruling gives the select committee more evidence that Trump and his allies were engaged in various schemes to interfere with and alter the election, as defined by statutes such as 18 U.S.C 371. Many of these schemes constituted criminal conspiracy to commit election fraud as defined by statutes such as 18 U.S.C 371.
Publications of excerpts of a grand jury report released Thursday sheds light on how its panel, comprising 26 members and three alternates, operated over several months in secret. Grand jurors heard testimony from 75 witnesses involved with various aspects of Georgia’s 2020 election, reviewed physical and digital evidence as well as being provided assistance by assistant district attorneys who explained applicable laws and procedures to them.
Some emails in the released excerpts reveal that even some Republicans had doubts about attempts to disrupt elections and manipulate results, including Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano recalling a conversation with Trump wherein he pressured state Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger into finding votes that might give Trump victory.
Many emails demonstrate that Trump’s lawyers and associates cited false claims about voter fraud without verifying them, then used these allegations as leverage against federal prosecutors and Georgia officials to promote this false narrative.
Trump also incorrectly claimed that Democratic-held states’ voting systems had been compromised by an “immense, massive and illegal scheme to steal elections”. In reality, no significant voter fraud occurred and the election result was close.
Judge Rader’s ruling will have no direct bearing on an investigation of whether or not outside interference compromised the 2020 elections, but could help provide clarity over President Trump’s attempts to overturn their results. Documents may provide new insights into how his allies created narratives of widespread fraud to justify their efforts at interference, while also serving as an important reminder that Trump cannot or refuses to uphold laws as promised in his oath of office. Read More>>