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Georgia prosecutors say all 16 fake Trump voters are the target of criminal investigation

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Court documents filed late Tuesday show that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis informed all 16 individuals who signed an “unofficial election certificate,” which was eventually sent to the National Archives in late 2020, that they may be be charged in the investigation.

The significant development indicates that prosecutors are moving closer to possible criminal charges against those involved in the effort. It also suggests the investigation is getting closer to Trump himself as it follows subpoenas issued to several members of the former president’s legal team who participated in overseeing efforts to expand election results in Georgia and other key battlefield states. .

“Each of the 16 individuals who signed the unofficial election certificate that was eventually submitted to the National Archives received a similar target letter warning that individual that his testimony was required by the special jury and that he was the target of the investigation.” Prosecutors said that on Tuesday.

Court records earlier Tuesday revealed that 11 of the 16 fake GOP voters received letters stating that they were the target of the investigation, not just witnesses.

Willis’s office informed attorneys for those fake voters that the change of status from witness to target was the result of “new evidence” that came to light in the course of the investigation.

“As our investigation has matured and new evidence has come to light, in a spirit of integrity we feel it is only fitting to inform you that your clients’ status has changed to ‘Target’,” said Willis’s office, according to a defense file. .

The Trump campaign’s role in creating fake election documents as a way to oust Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months from prosecutors in Georgia, as well as the Justice Department. CNN previously reported that Trump campaign officials oversaw efforts to advance illegitimate voters in seven swing states that Trump lost. The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 uprising has linked the effort to Trump’s “seven-part plan” to undo the election that culminated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

That plan included, according to the commission, the fake voters, a pressure campaign on then-Vice President Mike Pence to stop the electoral count, and the rallying of a violent mob that ordered Trump to march to the Capitol.

Voter lawyers say they are “nullifying” grand jury subpoenas for performances beginning July 25, calling them “unreasonable and oppressive.”

Among the 16 fake voters now targeted in the grand jury’s investigation is the president of the state Republican party, David Shafer. CNN previously reported that the Fulton County District Attorney sent a target letter to Shafer, warning him that he may face charges as part of her investigation.

The court documents reflect a shift by Georgia prosecutors as they previously reassured Shafer and other fake Trump voters that they were considered witnesses, rather than subjects or targets, in the grand jury investigation — a notable distinction that suggests Willis’s office did not consider their actions at the time criminal, two sources told CNN.

That appears to have changed in late June, according to court records filed Tuesday by defense attorneys, after prosecutors were informed that the 11 voters “in fact intended to testify substantively before the grand jury.”

Defense attorneys suggested Tuesday that Willis’ letter was a “publicity stunt.”

The inevitable conclusion is that the change of status of the nominated voters was not accelerated by new evidence or a genuine belief that they are subject to criminal activity, but instead by an inappropriate desire to force them to publicly invoke their rights. as, at best, a publicity stunt,” the court said.

Shafer, who faced investigations from federal investigators, Georgia prosecutors and the select House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, acted as a pro-Trump voter in Georgia. He also helped organize the false slate of voters in the Peach State, which Trump lost by nearly 12,000 votes.

Willis’s office appeared to be trying to determine whether pro-Trump voters in Georgia knew their actions may have been part of a broader and potentially illegal plot to pressure election officials and undo Biden’s victory, a source said. rather to CNN.

Georgia has remained a central focus for researchers at the state and federal levels. The Atlanta area investigation was launched after Trump’s infamous phone call, in which he pressured Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find the votes needed to win the state over to him, was revealed. .

Shafer told the House committee in February that the bogus electoral scheme was geared toward the Trump campaign after the then-president lost the vote of the state.

CNN previously reported that Rudy Giuliani led Trump’s campaign officials in directing the illegitimate voters as part of the wider plot to nullify Biden’s victory when Congress counted the electoral votes on Jan. 6.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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