By Kanishka Singh and Jonathan Landay
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Law enforcement officials were investigating threats related to former President Donald Trump’s election interference probe in Georgia, after the names and addresses of grand jury members were shared online, the local sheriff’s office said.
“Our investigators are working closely with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to track down the origin of threats in Fulton County and other jurisdictions,” the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Thursday.
Posts on social media of the purported names and addresses of the Fulton County grand jury were tracked by Advance Democracy, a non-profit research organization whose president, Dan Jones, is a former FBI investigator and staffer for the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The organization also found posts employing violent rhetoric against Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, who oversaw the more-than-two-year investigation of a suspected scheme by Trump and 18 others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“Statements by Trump and his allies continue to inspire violent language and threats online,” Jones told Reuters. “The latest threats against jury members shows you don’t have to be a politician or government official to be the target. It’s critical that the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office take this matter seriously. Equally important is that political leaders on the right denounce these threats and the statements that inspire them.”
Fulton County contains Atlanta, Georgia’s largest city and the state capital.
Earlier this month, following an indictment by U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith on Republican Trump’s efforts to overturn his election defeat to Democrat Joe Biden, Trump lashed out on his Truth Social media site, saying, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”
The 98-page Georgia indictment on Monday listed 19 defendants and 41 criminal counts in all. Echoing his criticism of the other investigations he faces, Trump has called the indictment a political “witch hunt.” Trump is the front-runner for the Republican nomination to run for president in the 2024 election.
“We take this matter very seriously and are coordinating with our law enforcement partners to respond quickly to any credible threat and to ensure the safety of those individuals who carried out their civic duty,” the sheriff’s office said.
An indictment in Georgia that is available as a public record includes the names of grand jurors but not their addresses or any other personally identifiable information.
A woman from Texas was charged earlier this month with threatening the federal judge overseeing Trump’s separate criminal case in Washington about the 2020 election.
Reports by Advance Democracy, which conducts public interest investigations, this week found posts by users on at least four social media websites targeting the grand jurors that “often included violent rhetoric.”
“These jurors have signed their death warrant by falsely indicting President Trump,” one report quoted a poster as saying.
(This story has been refiled to insert dropped word ‘interest’ in paragraph 12)
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Jonathan Landay in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Scott Malone and Grant McCool)
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