Politics

TIMELINE: Fulton County grand jury investigation into potential interference in Georgia elections

ATLANTA — What started as an investigation into potential interference in the 2020 presidential election here in Georgia has ended up with former President Donald Trump and 18 being indicted by a Fulton County grand jury on RICO charges and others.

The investigation has taken many turns since Trump lost to President Joe Biden in Nov. 2020.

Here’s a timeline of how the investigation has unfolded:

November 2020

11/3 – Donald Trump loses the election to Joe Biden in Georgia by 11,799 votes. Biden would not be officially declared the winner in Georgia until November 13.

11/4 – The first of dozens of lawsuits are filed in Georgia challenging the outcome of the election.

11/9 – Both US Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler call on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign. Raffensperger refuses.

11/10 – Gov. Brian Kemp, along with then-House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, reject calls for a Special Legislative Session to look at the elections.

11/11 – Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger orders a hand recount of all five million ballots cast. That recount later confirms Biden’s win.

11/13 – South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham makes two phone calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff. Raffensperger says Graham pressured him to toss out absentee ballots from certain counties (Fulton, DeKalb) where there were reports of voter fraud. That would have tipped the balance of the election to Donald Trump. Graham insists he was just calling as part of a “legislative act” to gather facts about the Georgia election. He pointed to the fact that later he voted to certify Joe Biden as president.

December 2020

12/1 – Georgia Secretary of State Office’s Gabriel Sterling goes on TV to debunk some of the voter fraud claims and asks Trump to calm down the rhetoric or “someone is going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed.”

12/2 – Raucous Stop the Steal rally occurs in Alpharetta featuring Trump attorney Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, Vernon Jones and others. Wood and Powell repeat false claims of massive voter fraud across Georgia.

12/3 - Georgia Senate Subcommittee on Elections hears testimony from Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, and others about massive voter fraud. It’s when we first saw the State Farm Arena video showing what they claimed was massive voter fraud in Fulton County. Giuliani called it, “the smoking gun” showing Democrats stole the election. Giuliani also made claims of thousands of convicted felons, dead people and people out of state voting in Georgia. The video and all of the claims were quickly investigated and debunked by federal and state investigators.

12/5 – Trump reportedly calls Gov. Kemp in an attempt to pressure him into calling a Special Legislative Session to overturn the 2020 election. Kemp refuses saying he’s following state law. Trump later calls other state lawmakers to get them to put pressure on Kemp to call the Special Session.

12/7 – After three recounts, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certifies the 2020 election for Joe Biden.

12/14 – As the Democratic electors gathered in the State Senate chambers to cast their ballots for Joe Biden, a group of Republican false electors were meeting in a second-floor room to cast their votes for Donald Trump. The meeting was supposed to be secret, but once the press spotted them, we were allowed inside. The false electors included Georgia GOP Chair David Shafer, GOP nominee for Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones, and Coffee County GOP Chair (at the time) Cathy Latham. At the time, Shafer said they needed to cast those false ballots to keep a Trump election lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court alive.

12/17 – State Sen. William Ligon, the Chair of the Georgia State Senate Subcommittee on Elections issues a report citing massive voter fraud and calling for a Special Legislative Session to overturn the 2020 election.

12/23 – Trump calls Georgia Secretary of State investigator Frances Watson to pressure her to investigate Fulton County absentee ballots.

12/29 – A GBI audit of Cobb County absentee ballot signatures finds no irregularities.

12/30 – Coffee County GOP Chair Cathy Latham testifies before the Georgia Senate Subcommittee on Elections about irregularities with their voting and with the Dominion Voting Machines. The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office would later call those claims a “mischaracterization.”

January 2021

1/1 – Fani Willis is sworn in as Fulton County District Attorney.

1/2 – President Trump makes his phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to “find” 11,780 votes. The phone call is recorded and later released to the press. It is the cornerstone of the Fulton County Special Purpose Grand Jury’s investigation.

1/4 – After being pressured by Trump to continue an investigation and learning he had fallen out of favor with the president, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia B.J. Pak resigned. Trump names Bobby Christine as his replacement.

Trump holds a huge rally in Dalton for David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in their runoff election against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

1/5 – Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeat Perdue and Loeffler in the runoff election.

1/6 – The insurrection at the US Capitol.

Later, when Congress resumes, eight Georgia GOP House members vote to invalidate the election results. US Senator Kelly Loeffler changes her mind and votes to certify the election.

February 2021

2/10 – Fulton County DA Fani Willis announces she will launch a criminal investigation into possible interference in Georgia’s 2020 election. She says it will look at Trump’s phone call to Raffensperger, but the investigation quickly expands to look at other areas.

January 2022

1/20 – Willis announces that she wants to impanel a Special Purpose Grand Jury to look into the potential criminal interference in Georgia’s election. She said many people simply refused to cooperate with her investigation, so she wanted the Grand Jury because they could issue subpoenas and compel witnesses to talk with them. Fulton County Superior Court judges later approve this plan.

1/30 – Willis asks the FBI for a security risk assessment of the Fulton County Courthouse after numerous threats against her office.

May 2022

5/2 – 23 Special Grand Jurors are seated. They begin their investigation in June.

June 2022

6/2 – Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger testifies before the Special Grand Jury.

July 2022

7/5 – The Special Purpose Grand Jury subpoenas former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and others. It also subpoenas South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

7/25 – Judge McBurney disqualifies Fulton County DA Fani Willis from prosecuting Republican Burt Jones, now Lieutenant Governor, after a hearing reveals she held a fundraiser for Jones’ Democratic opponent Charlie Bailey. If she wants to pursue prosecution, she would have to ask for a special prosecutor to handle that case.

December 2022

12/8 – Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn testifies before the Special Purpose Grand Jury. He declines to answer questions afterward. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham testifies in December. It was unclear if Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ever testified.

January 2023

1/9 – The Special Purpose Grand Jury finishes its months-long investigation and turns over its report to Judge Robert McBurney who then dismisses it.

1/24 – Judge McBurney will have a hearing to decide how much, if anything, of that report he will release to the public.

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February 2023

2/13: Judge McBurney orders partial release of special purpose grand jury’s final report. McBurney ruled that three parts of the report were to be made public: the introduction and conclusion, as well as Section VIII.

2/16: Portions of the grand jury’s final report were made public.

March 2023

3/20: Former President Donald Trump’s Georgia attorneys file a lengthy motion demanding both the judge and district attorney overseeing the special purpose grand jury be disqualified and that the grand report be tossed out.

2/27: Fulton County judge sets deadline of May 1 for District Attorney’s Office to respond to Trump team’s motion.

3/30: A New York grand jury votes to indict Trump, making him the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges.

May 2023

5/1: Judge extends deadline to May 15 for Fani Willis to respond to a motion.

5/15: In a dense, 24-page response, Willis asks the judge to reject former Trump’s motion to throw out the special grand jury report and remove her from the case.

5/16: Trump’s attorneys file a motion asking just to give them 21 days to respond to Willis’ response. The judge ultimately rejected their request.

June 2023

6/9: A federal grand jury hands up an indictment against Trump in classified documents case. The indictment alleges Trump improperly stored in his Florida estate sensitive documents on nuclear capabilities, repeatedly enlisted aides and lawyers to help him hide records demanded by investigators and cavalierly showed off a Pentagon “plan of attack” and classified map.

6/10: Former President Trump makes speech in front of the Georgia Republican Convention in Columbus, condemning the federal indictment as an abuse of power, and also made a veiled threat at Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her investigation.

6/12: Trump is arraigned on federal charges in Miami. He pleaded not guilty through his attorney.

6/20: The state elections board announced it found no evidence of any election fraud at State Farm Arena during the November 2020 election and closes the investigation.

July 2023

7/11: Fulton County court officials selected two grand juries, one of which could hear the possible elections meddling case that includes former President Donald Trump and others. A total of 96 potential grand jurors were whittled down to two sets of 23 plus three alternates.

August 2023

8/1: A federal grand jury in Washington, DC investigating the efforts of Donald Trump and others to overturn the results of the 2020 election return an indictment against the former president. The felony charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights.

8/3: Trump pleads not guilty to the charges

8/14: Fulton County grand jury voted to indict former President Donald Trump and 18 of his allies.

8/21: Attorneys for Trump negotiate bond agreement for former president for $200,000.

8/24: Trump turns himself in at the Fulton County Jail and is processed. His bond was set at $200,000 and some of the conditions of his bond include making “no direct or indirect threat of any nature against any codefendant,” no direct or indirect threat of any nature against any witness in the case which include posts “on social media or reposts of posts made by another individual on social media.”

September 2023

9/7: Former President Donald Trump files paperwork notifying the court that “he may seek removal of his prosecution to federal court.”

9/8: Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney releases full special purpose grand jury report, implicating another 20 people the grand jury said should have been indicted.

9/14: Judge rules that defendants Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell can be severed from the case and tried separately from Trump and 17 others. Trump and some other defendants also waive their right to seek a speedy trial.

9/28: Trump says he will not try to move trial to federal court, believes he will get a fair trial in Fulton County.

9/29: Scott Graham Hall, an Atlanta-area bail bondsman charged in the election tampering indictment, takes a plea deal, pleading guilty to violation of the Georgia RICO Act, two counts of conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit computer theft, conspiracy to commit computer trespass, conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy and conspiracy to defraud the state.

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