Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis is poised to hit Donald Trump with an indictment over alleged election racketeering.
Sources close to the Democrat lawyer in the Southern State’s Fulton County have told The Guardian newspaper she could present the evidence as soon as next month.
This month a special grand jury was convened in Atlanta to determine whether to proceed with criminal charges against the former US president and his Republican allies over allegations they took actions to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.
The focus of the jury will be on whether there is evidence of a “pattern of racketeering activity,” as required by Georgia’s racketeering statute.
The state’s racketeering law has more scope than its federal equivalent and outlaws any attempts to coerce or solicit qualifying crimes. This means that actions like influencing witnesses or committing computer trespass can be considered racketeering activity, even if they can’t be charged separately as individual crimes.
She reportedly has evidence to support an incident based on two statutes: one related to influencing witnesses and the other involving computer trespass.
The statute’s application could center on claims Trump took actions to undermine the fairness of the vote in Georgia. In January 2021 he requested that its Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, “find 11,780 votes” that could be deemed fraudulent and removed from the overall count.
While he is yet to face official charges concerning voting in Georgia, the former President has complained about being a “target” in the probe.
Prosecutors also continue to probe a group of Trump operatives who allegedly breached voting machines in Coffee County, paid by Trump’s ex-lawyer Sidney Powell.
The exact evidence being considered in the state’s two-year investigation into Trump and his allies is yet to be disclosed.
The state’s grand jury had been expected to make charging decisions in January, but a slew of plea deals between authorities and Republicans have stymied the process.
What could this mean for Donald Trump?
Legal experts have argued that allegations that Trump pressured officials and attempted to obstruct the transfer of power following the 2020 Presidential Election could broadly fall under the prohibition against conspiring to defraud voters.
The potential indictment carries significant implications for Trump’s political future, particularly as he leads the pack of candidates for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. However, the precise consequences and timeline of a trial remain uncertain.
Trump continues to vehemently deny any wrongdoing and told a Fox News Town Hall in Iowa on Tuesday that special counsel Smith was a “deranged prosecutor” in a post on his Truth Social platform, where he disclosed the existence of the target letter on Tuesday evening.
Formal charges against Trump in the election fraud case could be announced as early as this week. The trial might proceed more swiftly than the classified documents case, as pre-trial proceedings would not be impeded by national security concerns.
Moreover, Trump’s lead in opinion polls has widened in recent months, with his claims of bias in the investigations in the 2020 Election continuing to boost support among his base. On Wednesday Reuters reported that his latest Presidential campaign was backed by 47 percent of Republicans. This is over double the 19 per cent currently backing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his Party’s nomination.
However this latest row unfolds, there is no certainty that it will signal the death knell of Trump’s ambitions to regain the Republican nomination at the very least.
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.