Jerry Kremer

Trump’s fate hinges on Georgia


The summer is well under way and, happily, it won't be long before the U.S. Congress goes home. While in D.C., they haven’t done much beyond a watered-down gun-control bill, with lots of other critical issues pending. Even before Washington goes quiet, much of the action has shifted to Fulton County, Georgia, where a grand jury may decide the fate of everyone from former President Donald Trump to other big names like Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Some people imagine that any county down South is a small municipality with a sheriff who spends most of his time chasing speeding cars driven by Northeasterners. According to Wikipedia, Fulton County had the sad distinction of having 35 lynchings from 1877 to 1950, but today it is a large and bustling metropolitan area, encompassing most of Atlanta and 15 other cities. It has a population of over 1 million, very much like Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Fulton County is named after Robert Fulton, the creator of the steamboat. It is home to such enterprises as Coca Cola, AT&T, Equifax, EarthLink, Cox Communications, Porsche Cars of North America and Wendy’s/Arbys. Cases of major magnitude are heard in its county courthouse, and the grand jury that has been impaneled to hear the Trump election charges is composed of jurors from all walks of life.
For the past month, the Jan 6 congressional committee has been airing evidence on the insurrection, with numerous witnesses who have offered some headline-grabbing testimony about Trump’s actions on that fateful day. But no one knows whether the committee will make any criminal referrals to Attorney General Merrick Garland. And even if does single out the former president and his cohorts, it isn’t certain that Garland will take any action.
Meanwhile, New York state Attorney General Letitia James is pursuing civil allegations against the former president and members of his family. She has doggedly gone after the Trump organization’s accountants and appraisers, along with present and former employees. It is possible that James will start a major civil suit against all of the Trump enterprises and family, but that would have no immediate criminal consequences.

So the real action is taking place in front a panel of grand jurors in Georgia who can indict anyone who they believe has committed a state crime relating to the 2020 election. Last month they heard from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who undoubtedly testified about his now famous conversations with Trump in which he was asked to “find” 11,780 votes.
In addition, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is seeking the testimony of Giuliani and Graham. Guliani testified at numerous Georgia hearings, claiming that the state’s election returns were fraudulent. Graham called the secretary of state asking about absentee ballots, with the clear inference that those ballots might be fraudulent as well.
To date, there have been a small number of possible witnesses mentioned, but Willis has made it clear that she will call many people in the Trump orbit who made similar claims about the Georgia results.
Some of those potential witnesses will challenge the subpoenas they’ve received, but it is almost certain that Georgia courts will deny those efforts and force them to appear and testify.
Most of the American public’s attention has been focused on the Jan 6 committee hearings, and there is no doubt that in the coming weeks, there will be more testimony that may have an impact on Trump’s future political dreams, but nothing will emerge that will lead to any immediate criminal indictments. But Fulton County Court may be where a parade of well-known political names, including Trump himself, could face election-tampering charges.
History is made regularly in Washington, but a grand jury in Georgia may make some national history of its own.

Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column?