By Luc Cohen and Jack Queen
(Reuters) -A grand jury in Georgia has recommended criminal charges against Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and other allies of Donald Trump as part of its investigation into efforts to overturn Trump’s 2020 presidential defeat, according to a report on Friday has been released.
No one was ultimately charged as Georgia prosecutors filed a sweeping criminal case against Trump and 18 alleged co-conspirators.
The special grand jury recommended charges against Graham, a longtime senator who represents South Carolina, and against Georgia’s then two U.S. senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the report said. Like Trump, they are all Republicans.
Graham’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment but said he would speak later in the day.
The panel also recommended charges against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, adviser Boris Epshteyn and lawyers Lin Wood and Cleta Mitchell, the report found.
It was unclear why Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis chose not to file charges against the six people, and her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The six were among 39 people the special grand jury recommended charging in its Dec. 15 report, which had been sealed for nine months.
The special grand jury did not have the authority to bring charges, but Willis used the evidence gathered last month to indict Trump and his 18 co-defendants before a regular grand jury.
Responding to the release of the report on Friday, Trump said it showed Willis’ case was politically motivated. “They wanted to charge everyone who was breathing at the time,” he wrote on social media.
Trump and the other defendants in the case have pleaded not guilty. As with his three other criminal charges, Trump has denied any wrongdoing and said he is the victim of political persecution.
Graham, a former Trump rival turned golfing buddy, asked officials in Georgia to examine absentee ballots after the Republican president’s defeat. Graham has defended his conduct and said he had the right to investigate state election operations as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He fought a subpoena ordering him to testify, but was ultimately ordered to do so by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Loeffler and Perdue, both Trump loyalists, were defeated by Democratic candidates in the January 2021 runoff. Perdue unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2022. Neither immediately responded to a request for comment.
Flynn also did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Trump’s former national security adviser, a prominent figure on the right, urged Trump to use the military to overturn the 2020 election.
Epshteyn, a longtime political adviser to Trump, was involved in efforts to overturn Trump’s loss and has since advised the former president on the legal threats he now faces. Attorney Epshteyn declined to comment.
Wood, a conservative attorney who promoted election conspiracy efforts, denied wrongdoing and said he was surprised when he learned the special grand jury had recommended charges against him. “I don’t know exactly why my name is in it,” he told Reuters. He has since retired due to disciplinary proceedings at the Bar.
Mitchell, another conservative lawyer who has worked to overturn Trump’s defeat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The special grand jury convened in 2021 at Willis’ request to support her investigation. Over several months, jurors have subpoenaed testimony from 75 witnesses, including Trump allies such as his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Graham and top Georgia officials such as Governor Brian Kemp.
The special grand jury did not act unanimously.
It voted 13-7, 14-6 and 17-4 in favor of indicting Graham, Loeffler and Perdue, respectively. There was one abstention in each of the votes for Graham and Loeffler. The grand jury voted 20-1 to indict Trump in connection with the national effort to overturn the election.
The indictment lists 30 unindicted co-conspirators, who have not been charged but are alleged to have played a role in the scheme.
Despite his legal problems, he remains the frontrunner for the Republican presidential candidate against Biden, the incumbent president, next year.
The special grand jury report remained secret at Willis’ request while she determined what charges to file. After the indictments were issued, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled that there was no longer any reason to keep the case hidden from the public.
(Additional reporting by Andrew Goudsward, Jasper Ward, Sarah N. Lynch, Makini Brice and Joseph Ax; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Howard Goller)