Witnesses in Trump’s election meddling may have lied under oath – grand jury

By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – Some witnesses may have lied under oath during a grand jury investigation into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Georgia, according to excerpts from the panel’s findings released on Thursday.

The special jury also concluded that despite Trump’s false claims that the vote against him had been rigged, there was no widespread voter fraud and made recommendations to prosecutors on possible charges of vote-interference, the document showed.

These indictment recommendations — along with most of the report — remain sealed under a court order, leaving the question of whether Trump or anyone else could ultimately be prosecuted.

Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, was not subpoenaed to testify and did not appear before the grand jury, his attorneys said.

Among the 75 witnesses who gave affidavits were close Trump allies such as attorney Rudy Giuliani and Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham, as well as senior Georgia officials including Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

“A majority of the grand jury believes that one or more witnesses who testified before it may have committed perjury,” the report said, adding that prosecutors should consider appropriate charges.

Graham told Reuters when asked about the allegation of possible perjury in the report: “I’ll leave it to you to find out. I’m confident in what I said.”

The excerpts released on Thursday — just five pages in all — did not name any specific witnesses or individuals accused of a crime.

“The long-awaited key sections of the Georgia report that don’t even mention President Trump’s name have nothing to do with the President because President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong,” Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Trump, said in one Explanation.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said in a Monday order that the report included “a list of who should (or should not) be charged.” However, the judge ruled that those details would remain secret for the time being, out of concern that those named did not have a proper opportunity to defend themselves.

Perjury is punishable in Georgia with imprisonment from one to 10 years.

Steve Sadow, an Atlanta criminal defense attorney, said perjury is usually charged in connection with other crimes. The grand jury’s finding shows that “something did happen and people are covering it up or trying to cover it up”.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis launched an investigation shortly after Trump called a state official in January 2021, urging him to “find” more votes to overturn Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Trump continues to falsely claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud. He has denied wrongdoing and has accused Willis, an elected Democrat, of targeting him for political reasons.

The Georgia probe is one of several threatening Trump, including separate investigations by the US Department of Justice into his retention of classified information after leaving office as well as his efforts to invalidate the 2020 election results.

Unlike a regular grand jury, the special grand jury had no authority to bring indictments, only recommendations, and the decision whether to bring indictments ultimately rests with Willis, the prosecutor. If she decides a prosecution is warranted, she would have to bring charges before a traditional grand jury.

Trump called Georgia’s top election official Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021 and falsely claimed the election results were falsified. A recording of the call was leaked.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes, that’s one more than us because we won the state,” Trump said, referring to the 11,779 vote margin by which Biden won.

Four days later, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in a failed attempt to prevent Congress from confirming Biden’s victory.

Willis has also investigated a scheme in which an alternative voter list falsely claimed Trump won Georgia in an unsuccessful attempt to award the state’s electoral votes to him rather than Biden.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax in Princeton, NJ, additional reporting by Jack Queen, Andrew Goudsward, Susan Heavey, and David Morgan; editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell)


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