Fake Georgia voters could face charges in election probe

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FILE – Fulton County Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis poses for a photo in her office in Atlanta, January 4, 2022. Willis opened a criminal investigation last year “into attempts to influence the administration of 2020 general elections in Georgia”. A special grand jury with subpoena power was seated in May at his request. A group of Georgia Republicans who have been told they face indictment in an investigation into whether former President Donald Trump and others unlawfully interfered in Georgia’s 2020 election are fighting citations to appear to testify before the special grand jury. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, File)

PA

The Georgia prosecutor investigating former President Donald Trump and others’ unlawful interference in the state’s 2020 general election has told 16 Republicans who served as bogus voters they could face criminal charges.

They all signed a certificate falsely stating that then-President Trump had won the 2020 presidential election and declaring themselves the “duly elected and qualified” voters of the state, even though Joe Biden had won the 2020 presidential election. state and that a list of Democratic voters had been certified. Eleven of them filed a motion on Tuesday to quash their subpoenas, calling them “unreasonable and oppressive”.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, agreed to file any challenges to a subpoena in the investigation in state superior court or federal court in Georgia, according to a filing. judicial. He previously filed a motion in federal court in South Carolina to try to block a subpoena from being issued to him on behalf of the Georgia prosecutor.

Last year, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened a criminal investigation “into attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia general election.” A special grand jury with subpoena power was seated in May at his request. In court documents filed earlier this month, she alleged “a coordinated, multi-state plan by the Trump campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”

Willis’ office declined to comment Tuesday on the motion to quash the subpoenas.

A lawyer for Willis’ office said in a court filing on Tuesday that each of the 16 people who signed the forged voter certificate received a letter stating that they are the target of the investigation and that their testimony before the grand special jury is required.

In the motion to quash the subpoenas, attorneys for 11 of the bogus voters said that from mid-April to the end of June, Willis’ office told them they were considered witnesses, not witnesses. subjects or targets of the investigation. For this reason, they had agreed to voluntary interviews with the investigative team, the motion states. Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer and another of the fake voters appeared for interviews in late April.

On June 1, grand jury subpoenas were issued to these 11 fake voters. And on June 28, the district attorney’s office told its attorneys for the first time that their clients were considered targets rather than witnesses, the motion says.

On December 14, 2020, when official Democratic voters in Georgia gathered to certify the state’s electoral votes for Biden, mock Republican voters also gathered to certify an electoral vote list for Trump. They did so because there was a lawsuit challenging the election results pending at the time, and if a judge found that Trump had indeed won their voters list would become valid, the motion says.

The district attorney’s office knew all of this and correctly qualified them as witnesses, urging them to agree to voluntary cooperation, the motion says.

“The brutal, intolerable and public elevation of the status of the Eleven Designated Electors wrongfully converted them from witnesses who willingly cooperated and prepared to testify before the Grand Jury to persecuted targets,” the motion reads. As a result, their attorneys advised them to invoke their federal and state rights protecting them from self-incrimination, and they “reluctantly” accepted that advice, the petition says.

Their lawyers claim that the change in status from witnesses to targets was based on “an abusive desire to force them to publicly invoke their rights as, at best, a publicity stunt”. Therefore, they should be excused from appearing before the special grand jury, the motion states.

The motion asks Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who is overseeing the special grand jury, to excuse the 11 voters from appearing before the panel. He also asks her to consider Willis’ actions “indicating the inappropriate politicization of this investigative process.”

And he’s asking him to grant a motion filed Friday by State Sen. Burt Jones to remove Willis and his office from the investigation. Jones, who is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, alleged the investigation was politically motivated because Willis is an active supporter of his Democratic opponent. McBurney has scheduled a hearing for Thursday on that motion on Tuesday.

Willis’ office said Jones’ claims were without merit, and an attorney representing the office wrote in a filing on Tuesday that Jones had not identified any actions showing political motivation.