February 6, 2023

FILE: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, right, speaks with a member of her team during the trial to establish a special purpose grand jury May 2, 2022 to investigate the post-election actions of former President Donald Trump and his allies 2020 to investigate.

The prosecutor overseeing investigations into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election could face what might be the biggest decision of her career in the coming days, as a Georgia judge will consider Tuesday whether she has a to publish a special report by the grand jury on the subject.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis two weeks ago received the findings of the Special Purpose Grand Jury, an investigative agency that can recommend but not indict indictments.

The panel’s report follows a months-long investigation that included testimony from dozens of witnesses.

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Willis, who is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for the hearing before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, has kept a low profile about possible actions her office will take.

Her office could file criminal charges based on the report’s findings, possibly including Trump.

No past president has been impeached in American history.

If Willis files charges against the former president — and current contender for the 2024 nomination — she could be able to bring a high-profile indictment in a district court that has previously allowed cameras and live television broadcasts.

The potential for this to become a compelling national spectacle or even a circus is hard to overlook.

The investigation focused on, among other things a January 2, 2021, phone call in which Trump told the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger“I just want to find 11,780 votes, that’s one more than we have.”

In addition to Trump, Willis’ office has said others have also faced legal scrutiny at the probe, including a group of 16 Georgia Republicans who participated in a alternative voting schemeand former Trump attorney Rudy Giulianiaccording to court records.

State and federal officials interviewed for the investigation include Raffensperger, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of Trump.

Trump’s attorneys said in an emailed statement that they “will not be present or attending Tuesday’s hearing.”

“We have never been part of this process before. The grand jury coerced testimony from dozens of other, often high-ranking, officials during the investigation, but never found it important to speak to the president,” said attorneys Drew Findling, Marissa Goldberg and Jennifer Little.

“He was not subpoenaed by this grand jury, nor by anyone in the Fulton County Attorney’s Office, or asked to come voluntarily.

Therefore, we can assume that the grand jury did its job of examining the facts and the law, as we did, and concluded that President Trump committed no violations of the law.”

The Fulton County investigation and the decisions Willis makes on charges will become her most scrutinized actions in the two years she served as a district attorney and in the 17 years she previously served as a district attorney in that office was his.

Willis graduated from Howard University in Washington, DC in 1992 and from Emory University School of Law in 1996.

She began working in the Fulton County District Attorney’s office in 2001 and has risen through the ranks over nearly two decades, serving in almost every department in the office. She has served as lead prosecutor on over 100 jury trials and prosecuted hundreds of murder and other high-profile cases.

“The best trial attorneys are able to quickly take in a complicated set of facts and immediately identify the issues that will be the crux of the matter,” said former prosecutor Charlie Bailey, who worked under Willis for four years. “She [has] that ability in spades.”

Bailey said Willis is someone younger Fulton County prosecutors look to for their unfiltered advice.

“She had this corner office where people would line up outside and wait their turn. There were other great lawyers there, but she was probably the best of her peers in this department,” Bailey said.

One of Willis’s most well-known cases was the 2015 prosecution of 12 Atlanta Public School educators accused of conspiring to inflate students’ scores on standardized tests.

All but one of the defendants were found guilty of racketeering and other crimes.

“She was no nonsense, determined, intelligent and motivated,” said Linda Dunikoski, who prosecuted the Atlanta Public School scandal with Willis and is now the assistant district attorney in Cobb County, Georgia. “[The prosecution] was controversial. People said teachers can’t be criminals.”

Willis left the Fulton County District Attorney’s office in 2018 and opened her own practice specializing in criminal defense and family law. Two years later, she ran for prosecutor, challenging her longtime boss and mentor, six-year incumbent Paul Howard, who was embroiled in several scandals.

Bailey said he told her before the run, “You’re the only one who can do this. You have to run and you will win.”

“It’s no small feat to compete against someone you’ve worked under for so long, but she felt she had no choice. It was very tough and she didn’t pull any punches,” Bailey said.

She won, becoming the first woman to hold that position in Georgia’s most populous county.

Willis had been in office less than two days when Trump called Raffensberger on Jan. 2, 2021, asking to “find” the votes needed to change the outcome of Georgia’s presidential election.

Dunikoski believes Willis had no choice but to investigate the call.

“When an elected officer is made aware of a crime, she has an obligation to investigate, and that’s exactly what she did. She did the right thing,” said Dunikoski.

On February 10, 2021, Willis sent letters to Raffensperger and other state officials informing them of her office’s investigation into possible incitement to voter fraud, false testimony, conspiracy and extortion.

“You can’t come into Fulton County and commit crimes, and anyone who comes into Fulton County and commits a crime should be held accountable for their actions,” Dunikoski said.

Willis’ critics have accused the Democrat of pursuing Trump to raise her national profile and further her political ambitions.

Trump has insisted his phone call was “perfect,” calling the investigation an “exclusively political witch hunt.”

Her political career clashed with her office’s investigations in July, when the judge overseeing the special-purpose grand jury fined Willis for hosting a fundraiser for Bailey, who at the time was a Democratic candidate for president Lieutenant Governor who was running in a primary.

Judge Robert McBurney called the look of Willis’s participation in the fundraiser “terrible.”

McBurney prevented Willis from conducting an investigation into then-Senator Burt Jones, a Republican nominee for lieutenant governor who was among those implicated in the alternative program. Jones won the election on November 8 against Bailey.

But Bailey said he doesn’t think politics will drive Willis’s decisions in the investigation.

“She thinks Lady Justice is blind and it doesn’t matter that the alleged crimes you’re talking about were committed by a president,” Bailey said.

“And I think she would say it’s the most obvious thing in the world. It looks like crimes may have been committed. There’s at least enough where we need to investigate. I have to do it.”

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