BREAKING, Democrat Georgia Prosecutor Probing Trump Hires Leading Racketeering Attorney (3 Cartoons)

 The district attorney investigating whether former U.S. President Donald Trump illegally interfered with Georgia’s 2020 election has hired an outside lawyer who is a national authority on racketeering, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has enlisted the help of Atlanta lawyer John Floyd, who wrote a national guide on prosecuting state racketeering cases. Floyd was hired recently to “provide help as needed” on matters involving racketeering, including the Trump investigation and other cases, said the source, who has direct knowledge of the situation.

The move bolsters the team investigating Trump as Willis prepares to issue subpoenas for evidence on whether the former president and his allies broke the law in their campaign to pressure state officials to reverse his Georgia election loss. Willis has said that her office would examine potential charges including “solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering” among other possible violations.

A representative for Trump did not respond to requests for comment.

Floyd’s appointment signals that racketeering could feature prominently in the investigation. It’s an area of law where Willis has extensive experience – including a high-profile Atlanta case where she won racketeering convictions of 11 public educators for a scheme to cheat on standardized tests.

The investigation of Trump focuses in part on his phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state, asking the secretary to “find” the votes needed to overturn Trump’s election loss, based on voter-fraud claims.

Willis – a Democrat who in January became the county’s first Black woman district attorney – will have to navigate a fraught political landscape. She faces pressure from Democrats in Atlanta and nationally to pursue an aggressive prosecution, along with scrutiny from Republicans in a state historically dominated by that party.

Floyd declined to comment when asked about the appointment but spoke to Reuters about his past experiences working with Willis.

In 2014, when Willis was an assistant district attorney in Atlanta, Floyd was brought in as a special prosecutor for the racketeering case that grew out of the schools cheating scandal.

“It was very much a team effort,” Floyd said of working with Willis.

The cheating case could provide clues to her strategy for investigating Trump, legal experts say, while stressing that the probe is still in its early stages.

If she pursues racketeering charges, Willis will need to prove a pattern of corruption by Trump, alone or with his allies, aimed at overturning the election results to stay in power. While racketeering is typically pursued by prosecutors in cases involving such crimes as murder, kidnapping, and bribery, the Georgia statute defines racketeering more broadly to include false statements made to state officials.

The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was originally passed in 1970 to help tie Mafia bosses to the crimes of their underlings by allowing prosecutors to argue they conspired together in a “criminal enterprise.” Over the years, however, its reach has grown to include businesses and other organizations as enterprises subject to the law.

Willis specifically listed racketeering and lying to public officials in detailing the possible crimes her office intended to investigate in a Feb. 10 letter to four Republican state officials, asking them to preserve records related to the case.

“That letter was really a signal to the public that she was going after a number of possibilities,” said Clark Cunningham, a Georgia State University law professor.

Georgia lawyers familiar with the state RICO law said Willis may be considering whether it would apply to alleged false statements made by Trump and his allies as they sought to influence state officials to reverse his election loss.

“It’s not a stretch to see where she’s taking this,” said Cathy Cox, the dean of Mercer University’s law school in Macon, Georgia and a former Georgia secretary of state. “If Donald Trump engaged in two or more acts that involve false statements – that were made knowingly and willfully in an attempt to falsify material fact, like the election results – then you can piece together a violation of the racketeering act.”

Racketeering, a felony in Georgia, can carry stiff penalties including up to 20 years in prison and a hefty fine. “There are not a lot of people who avoid serving prison time on a racketeering offense,” said Cox.

Reuters contributed to this report.

BREAKING, Democrat Georgia Prosecutor Probing Trump Hires Leading Racketeering Attorney (3 Cartoons) BREAKING, Democrat Georgia Prosecutor Probing Trump Hires Leading Racketeering Attorney (3 Cartoons) Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 06:46 Rating: 5

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