The special purpose grand jury’s recommendation that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis indict Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler may be garnering all the headlines. But three other names included in the grand jury’s final report released on Friday merit the real condemnation of Willis’ outrageous politicization of election contests: Cleta Mitchell, Alex Kaufmann, and Kurt Hilbert.
On Friday, the Fulton County Superior Court entered an order directing the public release of the final report compiled by the special purpose grand jury that was empaneled to purportedly investigate the “circumstances relating directly or indirectly to possible attempts to disrupt the lawful administration of the 2020 presidential elections in the State of Georgia.” The public release of the 25-page unredacted report soon followed, revealing that the grand jury empaneled by Willis recommended the get-Trump prosecutor indict a total of 39 individuals — not merely the 19 charged in the sprawling RICO indictment handed down last month.
While the final report contained few specifics supposedly supporting the recommended charges, those included indicate Willis deceived the grand jury while staking out a position as an election-integrity denier. The opening of the report exposed the prosecutor’s charade, with the grand jury noting it “heard extensive testimony on the subject of alleged election fraud from poll workers, investigators, technical experts, and State of Georgia employees and officials, as well as from persons still claiming that such fraud took place.” The grand jury then stressed: “We find by a unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election.”
Phony Phone Call Narrative
Then came the recommendation that Willis seek an indictment against election lawyer Cleta Mitchell, “with respect to the January 2, 2021 phone call from President Trump to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger…”
While the report did not identify what specifically Mitchell did during that phone call that supposedly constituted a crime, the special purpose grand jury nonetheless pushed Willis to charge the election lawyer with intentionally interfering with the performance of election duties, solicitation to commit election fraud, and making false statements.
That the grand jury believed Mitchell committed a crime establishes that Willis either misled them or was willfully blind to violations of the Georgia election code — or both. The transcript of the Jan. 2, 2021, call proves this point.
At the time of that call, Trump had a still-pending election challenge in Fulton County. Mitchell, who was one of Trump’s lawyers, told Secretary of State Raffensperger and his staff that the court was “not acting on our petition.” “They haven’t even assigned a judge,” Mitchell stressed, adding that “the people of Georgia and the people of America have a right to know the answers.”
Mitchell, along with fellow election law attorney Kurt Hilbert, whom the special purpose grand jury also recommended Willis charge criminally, also highlighted during the conversation several specific violations of Georgia’s election code — including ones that have since been confirmed. For instance, Mitchell stressed they had watched the entire State Farm Arena videotape, and “what we saw and what we’ve confirmed in the timing is that they made everybody leave — we have sworn affidavits saying that — and then they began to process ballots.” Mitchell noted Trump’s election team had estimated that roughly 18,000 ballots were counted after the observers were told to leave.
The Georgia election lawsuit argued that the continued counting of ballots at the State Farm Arena constituted a violation of state election law and, specifically, Section 21-2-483(b), which required all proceedings at the tabulating center and precincts be open to the view of the public.” The election lawsuit also alleged a violation of O.C.G.A. § 21-2-493, which requires the superintendent of elections to “publicly commence the computation and canvassing of returns and continue the same from the day until completed.”
Mitchell then added that what she didn’t “understand is why wouldn’t it be in everyone’s best interest to try to get to the bottom, compare the numbers, you know?” Here she asked specifically what number of ballots the secretary of state had concluded were counted at the State Farm Arena after observers were sent home. Georgia officials provided no answer.
But that was “just one of like, 25 categories” of claimed violations of state election law, Mitchell noted. Hilbert, another of Trump’s election lawyers, interjected that they had “hard numbers for 24,149 votes that were counted illegally,” which was “just based on USPS data and your own secretary of state’s data,” and that “in and of itself is sufficient to change the results or place the outcome in doubt.”
Hilbert stressed that they were asking — “entreat[ing]” — the secretary of state “to sit down with us in a compromise and settlements proceeding and actually go through the registered voter IDs and registrations.”
“[I]f you can convince us that that 24,149 is inaccurate, then fine,” Hilbert explained, “but we tend to believe that is, you know, obviously more than 11,779,” which was the margin of votes separating Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
While Hilbert, Mitchell, and even Trump made clear in the call that they believed they had concrete evidence establishing more than 11,779 illegal votes had been cast and counted in Georgia, Willis has long misrepresented the content of that conversation, as exemplified in the response brief she filed in a federal court in seeking to enforce a subpoena against Graham. Willis told the court that “a central focus” of her investigation into the 2020 election “is former President Donald Trump’s January 2, 2021, telephone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger requesting that the Secretary ‘find 11,780 votes’ in the former President’s favor.”
But as the release of the transcript of that call long ago established, Trump did not request that Raffensperger “find 11,780 votes.” Period. It never happened.
Nor did Mitchell or Hilbert. Rather, both of these well-seasoned election lawyers highlighted during the call evidence they had gathered of violations of state election law. And while the state court never reached the merits of Trump’s election lawsuit, evidence has since confirmed the validity of at least some of those challenges.
First, as Mitchell stressed during the phone call, the entirety of the State Farm Arena video supported the claimed violation of election law — which was further supported by sworn affidavits and contemporaneous reporting by legacy media outlets.
Second, since the election, evidence strongly suggests that more than 10,000 illegal votes were cast and counted solely from one of the 20-some categories of votes challenged in Georgia state court by Trump’s legal team. Specifically, after the 2020 election, voter registration records confirmed the move of some 10,300 Georgian voters between counties.
Those voters, however, all cast votes in the 2020 election in the county from which they had moved before voting. But under Georgia law, residents must vote in the county in which they currently reside, unless they changed their residence within 30 days of the election. None of the moves were recent ones, though, making the votes illegal under state law.
Mitchell and her colleagues highlighted these violations of Georgia law during the Jan. 2, 2021, conversation with Raffensperger, and it was these issues they had pushed the secretary of state to investigate. In fact, neither Mitchell nor Hilbert raised the issue of fraud during the call.
Yet according to the special purpose grand jury report, Willis’ focus was on claims of fraud, with the grand jury stating it “heard extensive testimony on the subject of alleged election fraud from poll workers, investigators, technical experts, and State of Georgia employees and officials, as well as from persons still claiming that such fraud took place.” Willis also likely peddled to the grand jury the falsehood that Trump had asked Raffensperger to “find” 11,800 votes: That is the only way to reconcile the report’s recommendation to charge Mitchell with crimes concerning “the January 2, 2021 phone call from President Trump to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger…”
The grand jury also recommended Willis charge Mitchell, Hilbert, and Alex Kaufman — the latter being a third attorney on the Jan. 2 call with Raffensperger — apparently for providing legal guidance related to the selection of an alternative slate of Trump electors. Such legal advice, however, was not only not criminal, but legally sound, as I’ve previously detailed at length.
Legitimate Election Integrity Concerns
Finally, Friday’s report revealed the grand jury had pushed Willis to charge Mitchell, Hilbert, and Kaufman for what the report characterized as “the national effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election,” including “efforts in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia…”
That the special purpose grand jury recommended such charges against these three lawyers suggests Willis either intentionally lied to the grand jury about the various election challenges occurring in those states or was willfully blind to the numerous irregularities and violations of election laws.
In the case of Georgia, as detailed above, the facts have since confirmed the merit of the election challenge. Likewise, in Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court would later confirm the Midwest state that swung for Biden in 2020 had illegally used drop boxes during that election. Challenges in other states were never resolved, but that doesn’t make the Trump lawyers criminals for contesting the election results.
While Willis may not have indicted Mitchell, Hilbert, and Kaufman, the special purpose grand jury recommending the election lawyers be charged suggests the Fulton County DA painted all of the challenges to the 2020 election as frivolous. They weren’t, and anyone claiming otherwise is a denier of election integrity.