Greenwich Time

Trump probes: Ga. prosecutor ups anticipati­on

- By Kate Brumback and Eric Tucker AP writer Meg Kinnard contribute­d to this report.

ATLANTA — Former President Donald Trump and his allies have been put on notice by a prosecutor, but the warning didn't come from anyone at the Justice Department.

It was from a Georgia prosecutor who indicated she was likely to seek criminal charges soon in a two-year election subversion probe. In trying to block the release of a special grand jury's report, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis argued in court last week that decisions in the case were “imminent” and that the report's publicatio­n could jeopardize the rights of “future defendants.”

Though Willis, a Democrat, didn't mention Trump by name, her comments marked the first time a prosecutor in any of several current investigat­ions tied to the Republican former president has hinted that charges could be forthcomin­g. The remarks ratcheted anticipati­on that an investigat­ion focused, in part, on Trump's call with Georgia's secretary of state could conclude before ongoing federal probes.

“I expect to see indictment­s in Fulton County before I see any federal indictment­s,” said Clark Cunningham, a Georgia State University law professor.

Besides the Georgia inquiry, a Justice Department special counsel is investigat­ing Trump over his role in working with allies to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidenti­al election and his alleged mishandlin­g of classified documents.

Trump had appeared to face the most pressing legal jeopardy from the probe into a cache of classified materials at his Florida resort, and that threat remains. But that case seems complicate­d, at least politicall­y, by the recent discovery of classified records at President Joe Biden's Delaware home and at a Washington office. The Justice Department tapped a separate special counsel to investigat­e that matter.

Willis opened her office's investigat­ion shortly after the release of a recording of a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensper­ger. In that conversati­on, the then-president suggested that Raffensper­ger, a fellow Republican, could “find” the votes needed to overturn Trump's narrow election loss in the state to Biden, a Democrat.

“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said on the call.

Since then, the investigat­ion's scope has broadened considerab­ly, encompassi­ng among other things: a slate of Republican fake electors, phone calls by Trump and others to Georgia officials in the weeks after the 2020 election, and unfounded allegation­s of widespread election fraud made to state lawmakers.

In an interview, Trump insisted he did “absolutely nothing wrong” and that his phone call with Raffensper­ger was “perfect.” He said he felt “very confident” that he would not be indicted.

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