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Atlanta DA asks FBI for security assessment after Trump calls for protests over election probe

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Fulton County Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis photographed in her office on Jan. 4, 2022.
Ben Gray | AP

Atlanta’s top prosecutor asked the FBI to conduct a security assessment and provide protection for a courthouse and government center a day after former President Donald Trump called on supporters to hold “the biggest protests we’ve ever had” in places where he is being investigated.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is investigating Trump for possible criminal interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election contest, said in a letter to the FBI that “security concerns were escalated this weekend by the rhetoric of former President Trump.” The reality TV star-turned-politician spoke at a rally Saturday in Conroe, Texas.

“We must work together to keep the public safe and ensure that we do not have a tragedy in Atlanta similar to what happened at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021,” Willis wrote in her letter Sunday to the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Atlanta field office.

On Jan. 6 that year, a mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol and disrupted a joint session of Congress that was in the process of confirming that President Joe Biden had won the 2020 election, despite Trump’s false claims to the contrary.

Willis in her letter cited the fact that Trump said that if he runs for president in 2024 and is elected he may pardon rioters for Jan. 6 crimes “because they are being treated so unfairly.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Conroe, Texas, U.S., January 29, 2022.
Go Nakamura | Reuters

During a phone call days before the riot, Trump pressured Georgia’s secretary of state, who oversees elections, to “find” him enough votes to overturn Biden’s win in that state. In the same call, Trump also made what Georgia’s voting system implementation manager called “provably false” claims about purported election irregularities.

That call and other actions by Trump’s allies are the focus of the investigation by Willis.

A Fulton County judge last week approved Willis’ request to impanel a special grand jury for her probe will issue subpoenas for testimony from witnesses and other evidence.

Willis cited the special grand jury and its scheduled May 2 start date in her letter to the FBI saying, “I have an obligation to ensure that those who work and visit the Fulton County Courthouse, the adjoining Fulton County Government Center and surrounding areas are safe.”

She noted that those buildings are close to the Georgia State Capitol, Atlanta City Hall, and a federal district and circuit appeals court, as well as Georgia State University.

In addition to asking for an immediate risk assessment of the county courthouse and government center, Willis asked the FBI to “provide protective resources to include intelligence and federal agents.”

She wrote that Trump at his rally made multiple references to her probe and others.

At that rally, Trump said, “If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have the biggest protests we have ever had in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere because our country and our elections are corrupt.”

The Manhattan District Attorney and the New York state Attorney General’s offices are conducting parallel investigations into Trump’s business practices.

The FBI did not immediately comment on Willis’ request.

Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who is vice chair of the select House committee investigating events surrounding the Jan. 6 riot, in a tweet early Monday blasted Trump for his rhetoric on Saturday.

“Trump uses language he knows caused the Jan 6 violence; suggests he’d pardon the Jan 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy; threatens prosecutors; and admits he was attempting to overturn the election,” Cheney said. “He’d do it all again if given the chance.”

Earlier this month, a Texas man was arrested by federal authorities for allegedly posting a threat to kill a Georgia election official and other officials just days after Trump’s call to Georgia’s secretary of state

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