Georgia prosecutors say Trump’s 16 fake voters are targets of criminal investigation

Court documents filed Tuesday night reveal Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told the 16 people who signed an “unofficial voter certificate” that was ultimately sent to the National Archives in late 2020 that they could be charged in the investigation.

The significant development indicates that prosecutors are closing in on possible criminal charges against those involved in the effort. It also suggests the probe may be closer to Trump himself, as it follows subpoenas that have been issued to several members of the former president’s legal team who were involved in overseeing the efforts. aimed at nullifying election results in Georgia and other key countries. Battlefield states.

“Each of the sixteen people who signed the Unofficial Voter Certificate ultimately submitted to the National Archives received a similar target letter alerting that person both that his testimony was required by the special grand jury and that he was the target of the investigation,” prosecutors said Tuesday.

Court documents filed earlier Tuesday revealed that 11 of the 16 fake GOP voters had received letters telling them they were targets of the investigation, not just witnesses.

Willis’ office informed the attorneys for these bogus voters that the change in status from witness to target was the result of “new evidence” that came to light during the investigation.

“As our investigation has matured and new evidence has come to light, in the spirit of integrity, we feel it is only appropriate to inform you that your customers’ status has changed to ‘Target'”, Willis’ office said, according to a defense filing. .

The Trump campaign’s role in creating fake election documents as a way to supplant Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia has come under increasing scrutiny by Georgia prosecutors, as well as the Department of Justice. Justice in recent months. CNN previously reported that Trump campaign officials oversaw efforts to nominate illegitimate voters in seven swing states that Trump lost. The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising linked the effort to Trump’s “seven-part plan” to void the election that culminated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

That plan, the committee said, included the fake voters, a campaign to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to stop the electoral vote count, and the assembly of a violent mob Trump ordered to march toward. Capitol.

Lawyers for the voters say they are set to ‘overturn’ grand jury subpoenas for appearances starting July 25, calling them ‘unreasonable and oppressive’.

Among the 16 fake voters now considered targets in the grand jury investigation is state Republican Party Chairman David Shafer. CNN previously reported that the Fulton County prosecutor sent a targeted letter to Shafer, warning him that he could be charged as part of his investigation.

The court documents reflect a shift from Georgia prosecutors, as they had previously reassured Shafer and other fake voters for Trump that they were considered witnesses, rather than subjects or targets, in the grand jury investigation – a notable distinction that suggests Willis’ office did not view their actions as criminal at the time, two sources told CNN.

That appears to have changed in late June, according to court filings by defense attorneys Tuesday, after prosecutors were told the 11 voters “in fact planned to testify substantially before the grand jury.”

Defense attorneys suggested on Tuesday that Willis’ letter was a “publicity stunt.”

“The inescapable conclusion is that the change in status of the designated voters was not precipitated by new evidence or an honest belief that they are exposed to torts, but rather by an undue desire to force them to publicly invoke their rights as, at best, a stunt advertisement,” the court filing said.

Shafer, who faced inquiries from federal investigators, Georgia prosecutors and the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, acted as a pro-Trump voter in Georgia. He also helped organize the fake voters list in the Peach State, which Trump lost by nearly 12,000 votes.

Willis’ office appeared to be trying to determine whether pro-Trump voters in Georgia knew their actions could be a component of a larger and potentially illegal plot to pressure election officials and undo Biden’s victory, said a source previously told CNN.

Georgia has remained the focus of investigators at the state and federal levels. The Atlanta-area investigation was sparked after Trump’s infamous phone call came to light pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the votes needed to tilt the state toward him.

Shafer told the House Select Committee in February that the fake voter scheme came the way of the Trump campaign after the then-president lost the state vote.

CNN previously reported that Rudy Giuliani led Trump campaign officials to direct illegitimate voters as part of the larger plot to undo Biden’s victory when Congress counted the electoral votes on Jan. 6.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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