(Reuters) – A special grand jury was selected on Monday to consider evidence in a Georgia prosecutor’s inquiry into then-President Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to influence the U.S. state’s 2020 election results, a county prosecutor’s office said.
The selection marks a major step forward in the probe, launched after Trump was recorded in a Jan. 2, 2021 phone call pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn the state’s election results based on unfounded claims of voter fraud.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis requested the special jury in January in part due to its subpoena power, which she argues is needed to compel witness testimony.
A group of 23 jurors and three alternates was selected on Monday, said Jeff DiSantis, deputy district attorney overseeing media relations.
The special grand jury can investigate, then recommend charges to a regular grand jury, which would then decide whether to indict, he said.
During the phone call, Trump urged Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to “find” enough votes to overturn his Georgia loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
The transcript of the call quotes Trump telling Raffensperger: “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” which is the number Trump needed to win Georgia.
Trump has denied wrongdoing in the phone call.
Legal experts have said Trump’s phone calls may have violated at least three state election laws: conspiracy to commit election fraud, criminal solicitation to commit election fraud and intentional interference with performance of election duties.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu, Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer; editing by John Stonestreet)