“Central Question as Georgia Inquiry Wraps: Will Trump Face Criminal Charges?”


A few weeks after losing the 2020 election, President Donald J. Trump called Ronna McDaniel, the head of the Republican National Committee, with a plan for keeping himself in office. During the call, he asked John C. Eastman, an architect of the strategy, to lay it out: Trump supporters in states that the president had lost would act as if they were official Electoral College delegates, an audacious scheme to circumvent voters.

After the plan was put in motion, Ms. McDaniel forwarded an “elector recap” report to Mr. Trump’s executive assistant, who replied soon after, “It’s in front of him!”

Such details, from the report released in December by the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, offer fresh evidence that Mr. Trump was not on the periphery of the effort to overturn the election results in Georgia but at the center of it.

For the last two years, prosecutors in Atlanta have been conducting a criminal investigation into whether the Trump team interfered in the presidential election in Georgia, which Mr. Trump narrowly lost to President Biden. With the wide-ranging inquiry now entering the indictment phase, the central question is whether Mr. Trump himself will face criminal charges.

Legal analysts who have followed the case say there are two areas of considerable risk for Mr. Trump. The first are the calls that he made to state officials, including one to Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, in which Mr. Trump said he needed to “find” 11,780 votes. But the recently released Jan. 6 committee transcripts shed new light on the other area of potential legal jeopardy for the former president: his direct involvement in recruiting a slate of bogus presidential electors in the weeks after the 2020 election.

The Atlanta prosecutors have moved more quickly than the Department of Justice, where a special counsel, Jack Smith, was recently appointed to oversee Trump-related investigations. This month, the Fulton County Superior Court disbanded a special grand jury after it produced an investigative report on the case, concluding months of private testimony from dozens of Trump allies, state officials and other witnesses.

The report remains secret, although a hearing is scheduled for Tuesday to determine if any or all of it will be made public. Nearly 20 people known to have been named targets of the investigation could face charges, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, and David Shafer, the head of the Georgia Republican Party.

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