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Why the meeting between Trump's lawyers and Ga. prosecutors matters

The criminal investigation into Donald Trump has proceeded to the point at which his lawyers have met in person with a prosecutor's office in Georgia.
Image: Donald Trump
Donald Trump attends a border security briefing to discuss further plans in securing the southern border wall on June 30, 2021 in Weslaco, Texas.Brandon Bell / Getty Images file

Nearly a month ago, for no apparent reason, Donald Trump threw a tantrum by press statement — one of many — in which the former president complained, "All the Democrats want to do is put people in jail.... They are destroying people's lives, which is the only thing they are good at." The Republican went on to insist that district attorneys, attorneys general, and "Dem Law Enforcement" are "out of control."

It was an absurd harangue, filled with lazy lies and nonsensical claims in literally every sentence. What was less obvious at the time, however, was why in the world Trump issued this specific statement at that moment. I asked rhetorically a day later, "Is it possible that the former president recently received an unpleasant briefing from his legal team?"

This came to mind yesterday, as Rachel broke some news at the top of last night's show. Let's just go ahead and quote the A block directly:

"We can report exclusively tonight that attorneys for former President Donald Trump have now met in person with the Fulton County district attorney's office in Georgia."

For those who may need a refresher, let's review how we arrived at this point.

The trouble started in earnest on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, when Trump told Georgia's Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, 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 we discussed soon after, Raffensperger recorded the call, offering the public the opportunity to hear Trump, desperate to claim power he didn't earn, exploring ways to cheat, begging others to participate in his anti-democracy scheme, and even directing some subtle threats at the state's top elections official. By some measures, it was among the most scandalous recordings ever made of an American president.

It wasn't long before some observers questioned whether such efforts were legal. Politico published a report noting that Trump's antics "could run afoul of federal and state criminal statutes, according to legal experts and lawmakers."

It wasn't long before prosecutors in Georgia started thinking along the same lines: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened a criminal investigation into alleged violations of state election law — which seemed quite sensible, since trying to interfere with the lawful administration of an election is a crime.

And that's what makes Rachel's scoop last night so notable: This is becoming far less theoretical. The criminal investigation into the former president's alleged misconduct has proceeded to the point at which Trump's lawyers have met in person with the Fulton County prosecutor's office.

And within days of that in-person discussion, Trump, seemingly apropos of nothing, issued a statement condemning district attorneys, attorneys general, and "Dem Law Enforcement," adding that Democrats want to "put people in jail" and "destroy people's lives."

Now we have context that we didn't have at the time.

As for Willis' ongoing probe, the Fulton County district attorney told The Associated Press this week that "her team is making solid progress, and she's leaning toward asking for a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid the investigation."

She specifically told the AP, "I believe in 2022 a decision will be made in that case. I certainly think that in the first half of the year that decisions will be made."