The special grand jury out of Fulton County, Georgia finalized its work and it is expected to announce recommendations for charges at the end of the month. Those charges are thought to be coming for Donald Trump, said former prosecutor for special counsel Robert Mueller, Andrew Weissmann. The move comes less than a week after Trump went off on his social media site about the case and the district attorney.
The finality of the case comes after the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack and the attempt to overthrow the 2020 election revealed in its report that Trump was fully aware that he had lost Georgia.
Speaking to MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Weissmann, now an NYU Law School professor, explained that the Georgia case is one that Trump should be the most concerned about because he can't get a pardon for it.
"Obviously this is guesswork," he prefaced. "But to me, this feels like an incoming, heat-seeking missile. We're in this unusual position where there are — there is sort of a two-step grand jury process, which is different than at the federal system. So, there's a grand jury that just reported, and there is evidence and another grand jury that can bring charges. It is inconceivable to me that the first grand jury, having heard all of the evidence that you outlined, Nicolle, that they're not going to say that there is probable cause, which is a relatively low standard, to bring charges against the former president."
It's what makes it hard for District Attorney Fani Willis not to bring charges, Weissmann explained. It will also present the necessity for a full grand jury, not a special grand jury, which has different rules.
"So, to me, this feels not even like the calm before the storm. I mean, to me, we are about to see the final step with Georgia charges against the former president," Weissmann predicted. "And the final point I'll make is, we focus so much at the federal level, but these charges are the ones that can stick, because regardless of whether a Republican went into the White House eventually, these charges are not subject to a federal presidential pardon. So, if you are Donald Trump right now, you have to be really concerned about what is going to happen in Georgia and you can be sure he's going to start attacking her like crazy, and the system. But these are the charges that I think he should be most worried about."
The Washington Post published a report Monday about Georgia's expansive anti-racketeering laws that it's assumed might be deployed in the prosecution of Trump.
"I have to say that I'm generally of the view that you sort of lead with your strongest case and you keep it narrow and focused if you have a strong case," Weissmann continued. "Sometimes when you go broad, you create a bigger target for the defense to pick apart. So you want to just go with your absolute strongest case and just try it and keep it clean and quick and get in and get out. So, that's sort of my predilection and the way I think about things. It is, however, very hard to second guess that when you're not inside and being able to truly assess the strength of the case. But in general, I wouldn't be a fan of going big unless you really have the evidence and you're not creating a target for the defense."
Former federal prosecutor Barb McQuade, who is now a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School explained that the racketeering laws make sense to utilize because there are so many different political corruption pieces in the case.
"We had a public corruption scheme where the schemes were bribery and racketeering," she recalled. "So, a jury can get the flavor for all the criminal activity. But it could be an overkill to do that when the criminal conduct is really very focused on one crime — as it seems to be here, which is the crime of trying to defraud an election. And so in that case, I would think that you would want to be focused on that, but you can go too far."
She described cases she's seen folks go after one "clean charge," and ignore others that aren't as simple.
In those cases, "a jury is left not to know about all the other criminal activity and to believe the sole crime was this one little thing, like the phone call," she explained. "So, it's very important that Fani Willis get one that encompasses all of the crimes here without trying to stretch it beyond its normal bounds. So, I would think that anybody involved in a conspiracy would be fair game for a crime, but I would focus on the events occurring leading up to the November 2020 election, and anything up to that phone call in early January of 2021."
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Heat-seeking missile headed right toward charges for Trump youtu.be