A district attorney in Atlanta on Thursday asked a judge to convene a special grand jury to help investigate former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.
The request from the district attorney in Fulton County, Fani T. Willis, had been expected because crucial witnesses have refused to participate voluntarily, as has been the case with many investigations into Mr. Trump’s actions. A grand jury could issue subpoenas compelling them to provide information.
The distinction of a special grand jury is that it would focus exclusively on the Trump investigation, whereas regular grand juries handle many cases and cannot spend as much time on a single one. The Georgia case is one of two active criminal investigations known to involve the former president and his circle; the other is the examination of his financial dealings by the Manhattan district attorney.
“The District Attorney’s Office has received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia’s administration of elections in 2020, including the State’s election of the President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions,” Ms. Willis wrote in a letter to Christopher S. Brasher, the chief judge of the Fulton County Superior Court, which was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
She added, “We have made efforts to interview multiple witnesses and gather evidence, and a significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony.”
She said that Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, was among those who had refused to cooperate without a subpoena.
Ms. Willis’s investigation concerns Mr. Trump’s actions in the two months between his election loss and Congress’s certification of the results, including a call he made to Mr. Raffensperger to pressure him to “find 11,780 votes” — the margin by which Mr. Trump lost the state. That was one of a number of steps taken by Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn Georgia’s election outcome.
Ms. Willis said last year that she would consider racketeering charges, among others. An analysis released last year by the Brookings Institution that has been studied by the D.A.’s office concluded that Mr. Trump’s postelection conduct in Georgia put him “at substantial risk of possible state charges,” including racketeering, election fraud solicitation, intentional interference with performance of election duties and conspiracy to commit election fraud.
“Anything that is relevant to attempts to interfere with the Georgia election will be subject to review,” Ms. Willis told The New York Times last year.
“An investigation is like an onion,” she added. “You never know. You pull something back, and then you find something else.”
Richard Fausset contributed reporting.