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Georgia Republicans eye constitutional changes to protect Trump

Last week, a Georgia's district attorney's office launched a criminal investigation into Trump. A day later, GOP officials got to work to protect him.
Voters wait in line to cast their ballots in Georgia's Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, 2021, in Acworth.Branden Camp / AP file

It was just last week when we learned that a Georgia's district attorney's office had launched a criminal investigation into Donald Trump's anti-election efforts. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, it was the next day when a group of state Republican lawmakers pushed a new idea to shield their former president from consequences.

Senate Resolution 100 calls for a constitutional amendment that would require a statewide grand jury for "any crime involving voting, elections, or a violation of the election laws of this state and all related crimes." That would mean that [Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis] or other local prosecutors would have to empanel a grand jury from beyond their territories, drawing in more residents from rural, conservative corners of the state.

Let's back up to review how we reached this point. The trouble started on Jan. 2, when Donald Trump told Georgia's Republican secretary of state that he wanted someone to "find" enough votes to flip the state in the then-president's favor, the will of the voters be damned. As part of the same offensive, Trump pushed Georgia election officials to simply declare that they'd recalculated the votes that found that the winner of the state was actually the loser.

It wasn't long before some observers questioned whether such efforts were legal. According to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who launched a criminal investigation last week, they may very well not be.

Indeed, a grand jury is scheduled to convene in Fulton County -- Georgia's largest and most racially diverse -- next month, and it will hear evidence about the case.

Apparently, this isn't sitting well with some GOP state lawmakers, who support changing the Georgia constitution -- quickly -- so that Fani Willis wouldn't be able to proceed on her current course.

Under the Republican plan, election-related criminal investigations could no longer go to Fulton County grand juries. They would instead go to a whole new kind of grand jury, made up of members from across the state.

As Rachel added on last night's show, this would help ensure that conservative, white, rural parts of Georgia help comprise grand juries -- specifically on matters related to alleged election-related crimes.

To be sure, the proposal appears to be a longshot. Republicans control the levers of state power in Georgia, but changing the state Constitution would require a two-thirds majority, which the GOP lacks.

But what does it say about Republican priorities and Republican fears that such an effort is even underway?