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The Basement
The Epoch Times
9 Sep 2023


NextImg:Fulton County Grand Jury Recommended Charges Against Sen. Lindsey Graham, 2 Former GOP Senators

A grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, had recommended criminal charges against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) as well as former GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, according to a report that was released Friday.

Portions of the report were released earlier this year (pdf), but a judge had delayed its release until last month's indictment of former President Donald Trump and 18 others. The panel also recommended charges against retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, a former Trump national security adviser, and Boris Epshteyn, also a top adviser to the 45th president.

The special grand jury panel said it heard from some 75 witnesses before completing a report in December with recommendations for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on charges related to efforts after the 2020 presidential election. Ms. Willis had said she needed the panel's subpoena power to compel the testimony of witnesses who might otherwise not have been willing to appear.

Former Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), left, and David Perdue (R-Ga.) in file photographs. (Getty Images)
Former Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), left, and David Perdue (R-Ga.) in file photographs. (Getty Images)

However, Ms. Willis' office ultimately indicted the 19 aforementioned people, which also included attorney Sidney Powell, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, and more on charges that included violating Georgia's anti-racketeering law. They have all pleaded not guilty.

On Friday, Mr. Graham told reporters that he's concerned about the possibility of potential criminalization of his work as a senator. He described the grand jury report as "troubling for the country."

“You can’t criminalize senators for doing their job when they have a constitutional requirement to fulfill," he argued.

Ms. Loeffler, Mr. Graham, Mr. Perdue, and others were not among those who were charged last month, and it's not clear if they will be in the future. Both Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Perdue lost their elections in early 2021, with current Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) prevailing.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ordered the partial release of the report recommending charges in February but declined to immediately release the panel’s recommendations on who should or should not be prosecuted. The judge said at the time that he wanted to protect people’s due process rights.

Judge McBurney said in a new order filed Aug. 28 that the due process concerns were moot since a regular grand jury has indicted President Trump and 18 other people under the state's anti-racketeering law.

The parts of the report previously released in February included its introduction and conclusion, as well as a section in which the grand jurors expressed concerns that one or more witnesses may have lied under oath and urged prosecutors to seek charges for perjury. The panel’s foreperson had said in news interviews that the special grand jurors had recommended that numerous people be indicted.

Even though the report was finally released to the public on Friday, it's not clear when—or if—the transcripts of witness testimony will be released.

The members of the grand jury panel, meanwhile, claimed that their findings to recommend charges came only from them and were not pressured by Ms. Willis' office. They said that the district attorney “had nothing to do with the recommendations contained herein," and the grand jury contained no legal experts or any criminal defense lawyers.

Retired Army Gen. Michael Flynn, who served briefly as national security advisor for former President Donald Trump, attended a board meeting of Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 21, 2023 (Chris Nelson for The Epoch Times)
Retired Army Gen. Michael Flynn, who served briefly as national security advisor for former President Donald Trump, attended a board meeting of Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 21, 2023 (Chris Nelson for The Epoch Times)

“The majority of this grand jury used their collective best efforts, however, to attend every session, listen to every witness, and attempt to understand the facts as presented and the laws as explained,” they wrote in the report—possibly in an attempt to pre-empt any criticism of potential bias against former President Trump or the others.

The grand jurors also stated that they believed the Georgia 2020 election wasn't fraught with "widespread fraud," contradicting longtime claims made by the former president and others.

Neither Ret. Gen. Flynn, Mrs. Loeffler, Mr. Epshteyn, nor Mr. Perdue have released statements as of Friday morning. Previously, the three current and former senators have denied any wrongdoing related to the 2020 election.

In response to the grand jury report, President Trump on Friday wrote on social media that it has "zero credibility" and "taints" Ms. Willis' case against him and his co-defendants.

"Essentially, they wanted to indict anybody who happened to be breathing at the time," he continued. "It totally undermines the credibility of the findings, and badly hurts the Great State of Georgia, whose wonderful and patriotic people are not happy with this charade of an out of control 'prosecutor' doing the work of, and for, the DOJ."

The charges appeared to have stemmed from a phone call that the longtime GOP senator made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a longtime critic of President Trump, who claimed that Mr. Graham had asked him whether it was possible to invalidate legally cast ballots after the 2020 victory.

The secretary of state went a step further, alleging in a Washington Post interview in 2021, that he asked more questions about the state's laws around ballots. He then accused Mr. Graham of wanting to toss ballots that he said were legally cast: "It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road."

But Mr. Graham at the time said that he believed it "was a good conversation" and that he committed no wrongdoing. “I thought it was a good conversation,” the senator said at the time. “I’m surprised to hear he characterized it that way.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.