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What the special grand jury in Georgia found while looking into election fraud claims

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

We've been waiting to hear from a special grand jury that investigated former President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election result in Georgia. Today sections of the special grand jury's report were made public, but most of the jurors' findings remain secret for now, including their top-line recommendations on criminal charges. Sam Gringlas of WABE in Atlanta is covering this story. Hi, Sam.

SAM GRINGLAS, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: What exactly was the special grand jury tasked with doing?

GRINGLAS: So the event that really set this whole thing in motion was a call Trump made to Georgia's Secretary of State after the last presidential election. Trump asked him to find the number of votes he needed to win here, and this special grand jury was convened to look into whether crimes had been committed. The investigation expanded to look at a fake elector scheme and efforts to spread false conspiracy theories that the election was somehow rigged. The special grand jury has wrapped up their work and delivered this final report to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

SHAPIRO: So sections of the report were released today. Tell us what they showed. There is a bit of a delay on the line. We'll wait for your answer.

GRINGLAS: Well, not a whole lot, actually. We only got to see five pretty sparse pages of this document. A judge ruled earlier this week that a lot of the report has to stay under wraps. That's in fairness, he said, to any potential future defendants. I asked Georgia State University law professor Anthony Kreis what jumped out to him, and he pointed to the jurors unanimously finding no widespread election fraud happened in 2020.

ANTHONY KREIS: If Fani Willis is going to bring charges, it's going to be essential to show that people had an intent to undo something which they knew to be legitimate and lawful. And so if that is part of this body of evidence that's on Earth that the election was never in doubt, that makes that case easier to bring.

GRINGLAS: The report also confirmed that the jurors did take votes on criminal charges, but what they recommended exactly we just don't know. Trump posted on Truth Social that this report exonerates him, but this brief bit of report that we saw today doesn't clear anyone, nor does it mention Trump or really any names at all.

SHAPIRO: So we don't know whether the special grand jury recommended any criminal charges for anyone, but we do know about one specific recommendation from the jury. Tell us about it.

GRINGLAS: The jurors wrote that they are concerned that some witnesses lied under oath, and they recommended the district attorney indict those people for perjury. Now, we don't know who these witnesses are. Remember; the special grand jury interviewed 75 of them, including some of Trump's top allies, like lawyer Rudy Giuliani - also some of the biggest power players in Georgia, including Governor Brian Kemp.

SHAPIRO: This process started more than a year ago, so what happens next?

GRINGLAS: Well, whatever the special grand jury recommended, they don't have the power to indict. That is up to District Attorney Fani Willis to decide whether to pursue criminal charges and then ask a regular grand jury to approve them. Three weeks ago, Willis said decisions were imminent. We have not really heard anything from her since then, but just like the special grand jury that wrote this final report, the grand jury that would greenlight any charges, they also meet in secret. Bottom line, Ari, not much new here, but this is one of the first real glimpses we have gotten at how this investigation has unfolded behind closed doors. And no matter what happens next, it is still a key moment in this push to understand what happened in those days and weeks after the 2020 election.

SHAPIRO: Thank you for your reporting. That is WABE politics reporter Sam Gringlas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Sam Gringlas is a journalist at NPR's All Things Considered. In 2020, he helped cover the presidential election with NPR's Washington Desk and has also reported for NPR's business desk covering the workforce. He's produced and reported with NPR from across the country, as well as China and Mexico, covering topics like politics, trade, the environment, immigration and breaking news. He started as an intern at All Things Considered after graduating with a public policy degree from the University of Michigan, where he was the managing news editor at The Michigan Daily. He's a native Michigander.

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