The group included Georgia Republican Party Chairman David J. Shafer, gubernatorial candidate Burt Jones, county-level GOP officials, a former state legislator and local conservative activists.
Lawyers for 11 of those 16 Republicans, including Shafer, said in a new court filing that their clients received grand jury subpoenas on June 1, then were told in late June that they were considered targets of the investigation instead of witnesses. They argue in the filing that the subpoenas are “unreasonable and oppressive” and that voters invoke the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination after the advice of an attorney. They considered the new designation “a publicity stunt”.
In the filing, voters alleged they were unaware of the broader legal effort by Trump’s legal team, including Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, to use the list of “substitute voters” to help challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election. They further argue that the prosecutors’ investigation is “political interference” resulting from “local passion and prejudice.”
This defense echoes a November 2020 legal memo from Trump’s legal counsel, Kenneth Chesebro, who was also subpoenaed by the special Georgia grand jury, which advances an unorthodox legal theory related to the 1960 presidential election in Hawaii. when the state briefly created two alternate voter lists. while the state conducted a recount.
Jones, a state senator, received a letter informing him that he was also the target of the investigation, according to a person familiar with the documents. Yahoo News first reported that Jones and two other Republicans received the letters.
A “target” letter is often the last step a local federal prosecutor will take to notify a person they are likely to charge before formal charges are laid. Jones filed a motion to disqualify Willis from chairing the case because she co-sponsored a fundraising event for Jones’ Democratic rival in the lieutenant governor race, Charlie Bailey.
In response to Jones’ petition, the district attorney’s office wrote to the court that Willis should not be disqualified because Jones “was treated the same” as other bogus voters and that none of the prosecutor’s activities of the district has “been out of character as a court officer specially assigned to oversee the special purpose grand jury’s investigation.
Brandon Beach, a state senator, also received a “target” letter last week for what prosecutors say was his role in facilitating communication between fake voters and the Trump campaign, according to a person familiar with. the documents. Internal campaign communications obtained by The Post reveal that staffers knew the effort was legally baseless and therefore asked voters to be discreet in their activities at the Georgia Capitol.
The Fulton County Special Grand Jury began meeting in June and identified more than 100 persons of interest. The body has already heard testimony from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) and his staff, Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr (R), state lawmakers and local election officials. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (right) is expected to provide a sworn statement to the special grand jury next week.
In July, grand jurors issued subpoenas for several members of Trump’s legal team, including Chesebro, Eastman, Giuliani, as well as attorneys Jenna Ellis, Cleta Mitchell and conservative commentator Jacki Pick Deason.
Two members of Congress and close Trump allies have also been subpoenaed in connection with the investigation. Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) challenged the subpoena, disputing that federal laws allow him to forward any requests for testimony to federal court.
Senator Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.), who is of interest to the committee for phone calls he made to Raffensperger about the Georgian electoral system, cited the Speech and Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution as the protecting from subpoenas. On Tuesday, Graham agreed to move any future challenges to the grand jury subpoena to Georgia state and federal courts.