Trump Georgia Grand Jury Recommended Charging Lindsey Graham and Others

(Bloomberg) -- The Atlanta grand jury that was first to probe 2020 election meddling by Donald Trump and his allies recommended charging several people who were not indicted, including US Senator Lindsey Graham and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, a previously secret report shows.

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The 28-page document, made public on Friday, was only a recommendation to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who investigated the alleged scheme for more than two years. On Aug. 14, a separate grand jury indicted Trump and 18 of his supporters for allegedly participating in a criminal conspiracy to keep the former president in office after he lost the election to Joe Biden.

In all, the so-called special purpose grand jury recommended indicting more than three dozen people.

The report, completed in December, included recommendations of charges against former US Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Republicans from Georgia, as well as Cleta Mitchell, a former Trump lawyer who participated in Trump’s phone call trying to pressure Georgia’s top election official to “find” more votes. None of them were indicted.

Flynn’s attorney Jesse Binnall said in a statement that the Georgia probe was a “baseless witch hunt” and that Willis is politically motivated.

“This is troubling for the country,” Graham said in a televised press conference. “We can’t criminalize senators doing their job when they have a constitutional requirement to fulfill.”

Perdue and Loeffler couldn’t be reached to comment.

The report demonstrates that some of Trump’s most powerful allies in Washington were at risk of being named in the sprawling Georgia indictment after joining his effort to reverse Biden’s verified win in the state. The case is one of four criminal prosecutions Trump is facing as the Republican front-runner seeks to return to the White House in 2024.

Another name of note that the panel recommended charges against was Boris Epshteyn, who has served as an adviser and legal counsel to Trump. He declined to comment on the report when reached by phone.

The recommended charges were split into several categories of alleged conduct, including coordinated efforts to mislead Georgia lawmakers about massive voter fraud by Democrats and a plan to select fake presidential electors for Trump to help prevent the certification of Biden’s victory.

Read More: Trump Indictments Present Constitutional Quandaries: QuickTake

The indictment charged some of Trump’s biggest allies, including former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and his longtime attorney Rudy Giuliani. Willis alleges they violated Georgia’s racketeering law by participating in a “criminal enterprise” built around phony claims of voter fraud.

Some of the people who weren’t charged may be among the 30 co-conspirators cited in the indictment. The recommended charges did not appear to cite any violations specifically under Georgia’s racketeering law, which was ultimately the central focus of the indictment.

Unlike a regular grand jury, the special purpose grand jurors didn’t have the authority to return indictments, and the group was dissolved after submitting its report.

After receiving the special purpose grand jury report, Willis and her prosecutors continued to investigate. They granted immunity to at least eight alternate electors and ultimately built the indictment around a central racketeering charge.

One special grand juror opposed indictments of Perdue and Loeffler on racketeering charges because their statements after the election, “while pandering to their political base, do not give rise to their being guilty of a criminal conspiracy,” according to a footnote.

The special grand jury officially began its work in May 2022 and heard testimony from 75 witnesses. When it submitted its final report, it recommended that the full version be released to the public. A judge initially kept the report secret because the probe was by design a “one-sided investigation” and potential targets did not have lawyers representing them in front of the panel.

The special grand jury elicited some controversy when the foreperson, Emily Kohrs, gave a series of media interviews about the panel’s recommendations after their work was done. The judge later determined that she didn’t violate any rules as she avoided revealing details of the group’s deliberations.

Some parts of the report had been previously released. The introduction, the conclusion, and a section of the report expressing concern that witnesses may have lied under oath were made public in February under an order. But the names of suggested targets and recommended charges were kept secret until Friday.

The portion of the report that was previously made public showed that the special grand jury had found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Georgia. The indictment includes a perjury charge against Robert Cheeley, a Georgia lawyer who advised Trump.

A coalition of media companies, including Bloomberg News, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Associated Press, The New York Times and CNN, argued at a Jan. 24 hearing that there was no legal basis for keeping the report under seal. The special grand jury itself recommended its findings be made public.

(Updates with comment from Flynn’s lawyer.)

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