ATLANTA — The special grand jury that investigated efforts by Donald Trump and others to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results recommended indictments against twice as many people as the 19 ultimately charged by prosecutors, leaving South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham among those not indicted.
The grand jurors’ report released Friday showed they recommended racketeering charges against 39 people, including Graham, former U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. Charging recommendations against others included false statements and writings, influencing witnesses and criminal solicitation to commit election fraud.
Released at the request of the special grand jury, the report provides insight into one of the most expansive investigations into Trump, who is also facing two federal indictments along with unrelated state charges in New York City. While critics have accused Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis of launching an unwieldy, overly broad investigation, the report suggests she used her discretion to streamline the case.
There are many reasons Willis might have chosen not to charge all those recommended, including immunity deals with some, federal protections for others or insufficient evidence to prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University who has been closely following the case, speculated that Willis took some of the special grand jury’s vote breakdowns into consideration when deciding who to ultimately go after.
“If you have a jury and a group of folks who have pored over evidence for eight months and there’s still a 50-50 divide or a two-thirds divide ... I don’t think that’s something that you’d look at and say, we have a high probability of a conviction there,” Kreis said.
Of the 19 people ultimately indicted, only one was not included in the special grand jury’s recommendations. A former White House aide who served as the director of Trump’s Election Day operations, Michael Roman, was involved in efforts to put forth a set of fake electors after the 2020 election.
The special grand jury accused Graham and others of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law – a statute most commonly associated with mobsters – saying they tried to overturn the state’s 2020 election, which Trump, the incumbent Republican, lost to Democrat Joe Biden. The South Carolina senator, who was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger shortly after the November election, and Raffensperger has said Graham asked him whether he had the power to reject certain absentee ballots.
Perdue and Loeffler were sitting U.S. senators who had failed to win enough votes in the November 2020 general election and were forced into a January 2021 runoff, which they ultimately lost to Democratic challengers. In the weeks after Trump lost and they were pushed into runoffs, they cast doubt on the validity of the election results.
In an interview on a right-wing cable news channel in mid-December 2020, Flynn said Trump “could take military capabilities” and place them in swing states and “basically rerun an election in each of those states.”
He also traveled in November 2020 to the South Carolina home of conservative lawyer Lin Wood, where Wood has said meetings were held to discuss possible ways to influence the election results in Georgia and elsewhere. The special grand jury also recommended charges for Wood.
Trump, the early front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, blasted the report on his Truth Social site, saying, “They wanted to indict anybody who happened to be breathing at the time.”
Graham, who has denied wrongdoing, said, “It should never be a crime for a federal elected official, particularly the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who will have to vote to certify a presidential election, to question and ensure the integrity of that election.”