Opinion: The most remarkable thing about the Georgia grand jury report on Trump’s election lie

Editor’s Note: Jill Filipovic is a journalist based in New York and author of the book “OK Boomer, let’s talk: How my generation was left behind.” Follow her on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this comment are solely her own. View more opinions on CNN.


It is time for former President Donald Trump and his associates to face the consequences of creating and perpetuating the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. And it is time for his supporters to re-enter reality-based society and see the truth.

The findings of a Georgia special grand jury should put to rest any lingering questions about the validity of the 2020 election. The special grand jury was tasked with investigating whether there were “possible attempts to interfere with the lawful administration of the 2020 presidential election in the State of Georgia.”

They found, unanimously, “that no widespread fraud occurred in the 2020 Georgia presidential election that could cause the election to be overturned.” And damningly, a majority of the grand jury said they believe witnesses may have lied to them while under oath — and that the district attorney should issue indictments where appropriate.

The grand jury spent months hearing testimony and evaluating the evidence. And it’s worth noting that the public still doesn’t know most of what’s in their report, including who they think should be indicted for perjury, the full list of who testified before the grand jury, and whether the grand jury recommended indictment for crimes beyond perjury . This means that the core findings of the special grand jury—whether Trump and his associates illegally interfered in the Georgia election—remain hidden from the public.

That we read so much of the grand jury report at all is a credit to the free press and their demands for accountability and transparency. After a legal back-and-forth over whether to release the grand jury report — and after the jurors themselves voted to recommend that the report be released — a Georgia judge ordered the release of small portions of the report, including the report. introduction, conclusion and a section related to possible testimony. However, the full report remains confidential, with the judge citing due process and justice.

This particular grand jury does not have the power to issue indictments; they are an investigative agency and it is now up to the Fulton County District Attorney to decide whether to present her case to a regular grand jury to determine whether the defendant should be indicted.

The information that is already in the public domain is damning. On January 2, 2021, Trump spoke with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and told him to “find” the votes he needed to win. He also suggested that Raffensperger could face criminal charges if he did not do Trump’s bidding. – The ballots are corrupt, Trump told Raffensperger on the phone. “And you’re going to find out that they’re — which is totally illegal, it’s more illegal for you than it is for them, because you know what they did and you don’t report it. It’s a criminal, it’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen. It’s a big risk for you and Ryan, your lawyer. And it’s a big risk.”

He continued: “And you can’t let it happen, and you let it happen. You know, I mean, I’m warning you to let it happen. So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.”

Trump campaign officials and other allies also devised a seven-state scheme to create fake pools of Electoral College delegates that would bypass the real election results and instead cast their votes for Trump.

This information is not new. And it would have been far better – for the sake of transparency – if the special grand jury report had been made public in its entirety. But even these limited public findings are important, as they make it clear that an impartial group of average citizens in Georgia — long a red state, now an increasingly purple one — will take one look at the evidence before them and conclude, for one, that Trump’s claim about a stolen election is a big, ugly, dangerous lie.

That conclusion seems unlikely to sway any of Trump’s hardcore base, which has proven largely unshakable. But it could affect a Republican Party in turmoil, divided over everything from their anti-abortion strategy to who will lead their party’s ticket in 2024. Many Republicans want to move past Trump, with his unfiltered bigotry and endless drama and possession of hucksters and rejected. But many of these same Republicans fear the stubborn and loud Trump base.

They should take a page from this particular grand jury’s book. It seems highly unlikely that every member of this jury was a liberal Democrat. While Biden won 76.2% of the vote in Fulton County in 2020, there were sure to be Trump supporters and people who usually vote Republican among the jurors. And yet these voters were able to set aside their partisan interests, recognize the weight of the task assigned to them and the power they wielded, and behave accordingly. They gave the evidence a good read; they made recommendations that were hopefully based on the information before them and not on partisan interests. They were not tasked with determining guilt or innocence, but rather assessing whether the evidence before them supported bringing any criminal charges.

They were asked to consider whether it is possible that a former president and his allies had exploited an attack on American democracy, or whether that president was telling the truth when he said the election was stolen.

They found that, contrary to the former president’s claims, there was no evidence of widespread fraud that undermined the outcome of the election and that at least some criminal charges should be brought.

That’s a much nobler conclusion than the one we’ve seen from members of the GOP, many of whom have largely resisted any attempt to assign responsibility for election fraud lies, often doubling down on those lies instead.

Even after the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol shocked the nation and left several dead, Republicans have largely resisted efforts to find out what happened and how.

If average persons selected for a special grand jury can complete this task with honesty and integrity, it does not ask too much for Republican officeholders to approach their roles with similar seriousness: To declare that the election was free and fair, and to ask that they who may have broken the law or lied be held liable.

Now any criminal charges are in the hands of prosecutors. But the future of the Republican Party—its allegiance to democracy, country, and truth itself—is in the party’s own hands. They can move forward by telling the truth, seeking accountability, and trying to regain some integrity. Or they could go ahead with disgraced former President Trump.

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