Jul 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Georgia election criminal probe names 16 GOP electors as "targets"

Fulton County election workers examine ballots while vote counting, at State Farm Arena on November 5, 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Fulton County election workers in Atlanta, Georgia, in November 2020. Photo: Tami Chappell/AFP via Getty Images

The Fulton County district attorney's office said Tuesday 16 Republicans who signed an "unofficial electoral certificate" in Georgia are "targets" in its investigation into former President Trump's alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Tuesday's court filings mark a major acceleration in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' investigation as they indicate the fake electors may face criminal charges.

  • While the national focus has been on the Jan. 6 select committee and its hearings on the U.S. Capitol riot and the possibility of Justice Department investigations into alleged illegal activity by Trump, it's an Atlanta prosecutor who could prove the biggest threat to the former president and his allies, per the New York Times.

Of note: Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a court filing Tuesday he would move any challenges to a subpoena in the probe to a state superior court or federal court in Georgia, after previously announcing he would challenge his Fulton County subpoena.

Driving the news: "Each of the sixteen persons who signed the unofficial Elector Certificate ultimately submitted to the National Archives received a similar target letter alerting, that person both that his testimony was required by the special purpose grand jury and that he was a target of the investigation," prosecutors said in one of Tuesday's filings.

What they're saying: State GOP chair David Shafer was among 11 of the 16 Republicans targeted in the Georgia investigation who filed a motion against any future testimony and to have Willis disqualified from the case.

  • "The unavoidable conclusion is that the nominee electors' change of status was not precipitated by new evidence or an honestly-held belief that they have criminal exposure but instead an improper desire to force them to publicly invoke their rights as, at best, a publicity stunt," defense attorneys argued.

Yes, but: Willis' office responded in a filing, "As our investigation has matured and new evidence has come to light, in a spirit of integrity we feel it only fitting to inform you that your clients' status has changed to 'Target.'"

Go deeper: Georgia grand jury investigating Trump subpoenas Rudy Giuliani, Lindsey Graham

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