Fulton County DA continues investigation into allegations of election interference by Trump

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said her office's investigation into allegations that former President Donald Trump and others attempted to interfere with the 2020 election is ongoing. 

At a press conference on Wednesday, Willis said the investigation launched by her office will be given the same weight as others amid the crime crisis the county faces from a backlog of untried court cases. 

"There is an active ongoing investigation," Willis said. "As I have told people, even when you are in a crime crisis, I do not have the right as district attorney to look the other way on any crime that has happened in our jurisdiction. Certainly, if someone did something as interfere with the right to vote … we are going to invest in that."

Willis said Wednesday that no one charged in the county with homicide, a sexual offense, or with ‘vile criminal histories" will be released due to a lack of an indictment. The task required funding by Fulton County for additional staff to process indictments. That’s been her office's focus, she said. The investigation into alleged interference in 2020 can't be rushed. 

"My first priority as a district attorney is to make sure this is community safe," Willis said. "That is why I have pulled the men and women standing behind me to focus on that first priority. As far as a timeline — obviously the statute of limitations always gives you a four-year timeline — we're going to do it until it's done until I'm comfortable. Should the facts and the law match up to a charge, the community should feel confident this office should bring charges." 

Trump call sparks Fulton County investigation 

Willis, a Democrat elected in November 2020, sent letters to state officials in February instructing them to preserve records related to the election, particularly those that may contain evidence of attempts to influence elections officials. The investigation focused on "attempts to influence" the outcome of last year’s general election.

Trump was not specifically named in Willis' letter, but he has been criticized for a call he made to the state’s top elections official.

Trump lost by about 12,000 votes in Georgia to President Joe Biden, following several recounts. In a Jan. 2 telephone conversation with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Trump repeatedly suggested Raffensperger could change the certified results of the presidential election, an assertion the secretary of state rejected.

"All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes which is one more than we have. Because we won the state," Trump told Raffensperger.

Trump claims fraud in Fulton County

Trump focused on Fulton after the November general election, claiming fraud contributed to his loss in the state. Trump told Raffensperger during the call there were thousands of forged signatures on Fulton County absentee ballots. He also claimed ballots were shredded in Fulton County. Raffensperger has testified to the fairness of the 2020 election in Georgia but has been critical of Fulton County's election board.

Based on a complaint from George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, Raffesnperger opened an investigation into the attempt by the former president to sway the election his way.

Fulton County Commission Chair Robb Pitts said Fulton County and its elections have been unfairly targeted. 

Georgia's recent election reforms

Under Senate Bill 202, the chair of the state elections board is appointed by the Georgia legislature, replacing the secretary of state. It also allows the board to remove and replace county election officials deemed to be underperforming.

Raffensperger said "many of the measures are good measures," but criticized a portion of the bill that strips him of his position as chair of the state election board and replaces him with someone appointed by the Speaker of the House.

"There's no accountability. When you have an elected representative that's the chair of the state election board, you can hold them accountable and so, at the end of the day, I think this will be something that voters in Georgia will probably regret sometime in the future. We just don't know when," Raffensperger said.  

The Associated Press contributes to this report.