A special prosecutor will be chosen to investigate Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, a Republican, in connection with former President Trump’s alleged illegal efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis announced a 98-page indictment Monday night accusing Trump and 18 others of attempting to change the election results in his favor. Among the others indicted were former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and former members of Trump’s legal team Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell.
The former president was indicted on 13 counts, including Solicitation of Violation of Oath by a Public Officer, Conspiracy to Commit Impersonating a Public Officer, Conspiracy to Commit Forgery in the First Degree, Conspiracy to Commit False Statements and Writings, Conspiracy to Commit Filing False Documents, Conspiracy to Commit Forgery in the First Degree and Filing False Documents.
Jones, who was not listed in the indictment, was one of the 16 so-called fake electors who falsely claimed Trump won Georgia and attempted to conduct a secret meeting at the State Capitol on December 14, 2020, in an effort to overturn President Biden’s victory in the Peach State. Three of the 16 electors were indicted on allegations of forgery, false statements and impersonating a public officer, among other crimes.
The lieutenant governor has previously denied wrongdoing, claiming he and other electors acted only to preserve Trump’s chances if the former president won in court. He said in a statement Tuesday that Willis’ investigation was ‘a constant media and PR campaign for the sole purpose of furthering her own political career,’ adding that she was pursuing ‘the political vendettas of the past’ when she should have been ‘going after real criminals.’
The grand jury left Jones, a former state senator, out of Monday’s indictment after Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ordered Willis to drop the then-candidate for lieutenant governor from her investigation in July 2022 because she hosted a fundraiser for Democrat Charlie Bailey, who was running against Jones in the general election that November.
‘This scenario creates a plain and actual and untenable conflict,’ McBurney wrote in his order at the time. ‘Any decision the District Attorney makes about Senator Jones in connection with the grand jury investigation is necessarily infected by it.’
Georgia Prosecuting Attorneys Council Executive Director Pete Skandalakis decided to wait until an indictment was handed down before choosing whether to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Jones.
‘Ultimately, the special prosecutor will make the decision about whether or not to file any charges,’ Skandalakis told The Associated Press.
State Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler, a Democrat, said she believes applauded the move for a special prosecutor to be selected to examine the scope of Jones’ role in the fake electors scheme.
‘He doesn’t get a pass simply because the Fulton County DA wasn’t permitted to bring charges,’ Butler said in a statement.
Skandalakis said the council will read through Monday’s indictment and ask for a copy of the still-sealed report of the special investigative grand jury that laid the groundwork for the indictments. The council will also speak with Willis about what her investigators may know about Jones, as she was still allowed to ask other witnesses about him despite being ordered not to subpoena him or his records. Skandalakis said he will appoint a special prosecutor but has not made a decision on who that will be.
‘That’s going to be extremely difficult to find somebody,’ he told Fox 5 Atlanta. ‘Not only because of the resources that you need to handle a case like this, but the limitations I have in paying somebody.’
Speaking on whether Jones’ actions warrant an indictment, Skandalakis told The Associated Press, ‘I don’t even know what’s in the investigation.’
Skandalakis does not have to name one of Georgia’s 49 other district attorneys to investigate Jones and can choose anyone with prosecutorial experience. But, he said, finding a prosecutor willing to take the case may be difficult as Georgia does not pay special prosecutors much and offers no money to hire additional staff. This means a district attorney could use their existing staff, but a retired prosecutor would not be able to hire any staff at all.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.