The Georgia grand jury heard the recording of Trump’s call to the speaker of the statehouse
By Eric Beech
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Atlanta grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election meddling heard a recorded phone call he made to Georgia’s Republican House leader trying to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the swing state, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Wednesday.
The existence of such a recording, or that it was played for the 23-member grand jury during its eight-month investigation, has not previously been reported.
Then-speaker of the Georgia House David Ralston, since deceased, told local media in December 2020 that Trump had called him the day before and asked him to call a special session of the state legislature to overturn the results of the Georgia presidential election.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said it learned a recording of the Trump-Ralston call existed from the paper’s own recent exclusive interview with five of the grand jurors who said they had heard it.
The paper quoted one of the panelists it interviewed as saying that Ralston “basically cut the president off” without making any specific promises, telling Trump: “‘I will do everything in my power that I think is appropriate.’ .”
“He just basically took the wind out of the sails,” the juror told the newspaper, recounting that Trump then thanked Ralston, which at the time was “all the president could say.”
Ralston and other state legislative leaders never called a special session, and the Georgia House speaker himself testified before the Fulton County special grand jury in July 2022, according to local media. Ralston died about four months later, in November.
Unlike evidence and testimony examined in open court by US courts, grand jury proceedings, which play a role in bringing criminal charges through indictments, are generally closed to the public.
The George election grand jury is also known to have investigated a previously disclosed call Trump made on January 2, 2021, to then-Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, falsely claiming that the November election results were fraudulent.
In a recording of the call that has been widely available to the public, Trump is heard asking Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.”
The Wall Street Journal has posted a recording of another phone call Trump had with Raffensperger’s chief investigator at the time, Frances Watson, who was conducting an audit of about 15,000 ballots, urging her to find the “dishonesty” he claimed without evidence had cost him the election.
The Journal-Constitution said the five grand jurors it interviewed — three men and two women — spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their safety and privacy, and declined to discuss parts of its final report that remain under seal.
That report, submitted to the Fulton County district attorney in January before the panel was disbanded, included who the grand jury recommended should be indicted.
In an earlier interview with the Journal-Constitution, jury foreman Emily Kohrs said “it’s not a short list” when asked how many people the panel recommended be criminally charged.
The special grand jury, unlike a regular grand jury, did not have the power to issue indictments, only recommendations, and the decision whether to indict ultimately rests with District Attorney Fani Willis.
(Reporting by Eric Beech in Washington; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)