It is already Donald Trump's most famous phone call and could be by far the most momentous for him. Shortly after losing the presidential election, on January 2, 2021, the ex-president called Georgia's election commissioner Brad Raffensperger and asked him to "find" the votes he needed to win. "I just want to find 11,780 votes," Trump said, according to a released recording of the conversation.
This one sentence could now be fatal for the man who wants to move back into the White House in 2024.
A Georgia grand jury that spent months investigating possible electoral interference by Trump and his allies on Tuesday recommended indicting several people. Chief juror Emily Kohrs left open exactly who is threatened with indictment, but announced that it was "not a short list". "There are definitely names among them that you definitely know. But there are also names that you probably don't know."
At its core, the investigations in Georgia revolve around several attempts by the Trump camp to influence the counting of votes after the 2020 presidential election. It's not just about the behavior of the ex-president, but also the appearance of bogus electors in Georgia, attempts to penetrate the voting machines, and threats to polling workers. The race was particularly close in the crucial state: the Republican incumbent was just under 12,000 votes behind his challenger Joe Biden. 11,780 to be precise, as the public learned after the sensational phone call between Trump and Raffensberger became known.
The judiciary in Georgia immediately began investigations into possible interference with the election. For this purpose, a so-called Special Grand Jury was convened - an investigative body made up of citizens, which, among other things, could summon witnesses. For nearly seven months, the special jury met in a downtown Atlanta courthouse and heard testimonies from a total of 70 witnesses. Among those surveyed were Trump's former private attorney Rudy Giuliani and his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, but not the ex-president himself.
A small portion of the final report on the Georgia investigation was released last week. Accordingly, the grand jury unanimously concluded that there was no large-scale fraud in the Southern state election that would have changed the outcome of the election.
Asked by reporters if the jury recommended indicting Trump anyway, jury chair Kohrs gave a cryptic response: "You won't be shocked. It's not rocket science," she said, adding, "You won't be too be surprised."
For Trump, who announced his renewed candidacy in November, the investigations in Georgia come at the worst possible time. Especially since they are by no means the only ones:
With a view to the latest developments in Georgia, the chair of the investigative body is keeping a low profile for the time being. "I can tell you that when the judge releases the [jury's] recommendations, there won't be much of a twist," Kohrs told the Associated Press. "You probably have some idea of what might be in there. I try very hard to say it carefully."
However, the Special Grand Jury itself has no indictment powers. Whether and for whom there will be charges is now in the hands of the investigating prosecutor Fani Willis. This should first submit the recommendations to another grand jury before announcing its decision.
One thing is certain, if the name "Donald Trump" is on the list, things could get pretty uncomfortable for the ex-president in the election campaign.
Sources: AP, NY Times, Washington Post, with AFP