Breakdown

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

About

True crime investigations from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Veteran legal affairs journalist Bill Rankin takes you inside the courtroom to break down the story and the criminal justice system. This award-winning series investigates Georgia’s most important cases with fact-based reporting. Season 9 focuses on the historic special grand jury investigation of former President Donald Trump in Fulton County, Georgia, led by District Attorney Fani Willis. Learn more about our reporting at ajc.com/breakdown.

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118 episodes

S9 Ep. 23: Decisions Are Imminent

A court hearing is held as to whether the Fulton County special purpose grand jury’s final report can be made public right now. The most recent episode of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast covers the hearing. Episode 23 – “Decisions Are Imminent” – also includes an interview with a former Atlanta prosecutor who explains why he thinks bringing indictments would set a dangerous precedent. At the hearing, Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis has the first word, asking Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney to keep it under seal, at least for the time being. Atlanta lawyer Tom Clyde, representing The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and more than a dozen other major news outlets, tells McBurney he should release the report immediately. Before the hearing, former President Donald Trump’s lawyers make their first public statement in months and Trump himself posts on social media condemning the investigation and insisting once again he did nothing wrong. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

47m
Jan 27
S9 Ep. 22: Its Work Is Done

The Fulton County special purpose grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump and his allies has finished its work. In an order signed Jan. 9, Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said the special grand jury had finished writing its final report – which, if it recommends bringing charges against the former president, could be one of the most consequential legal documents in recent U.S. history. The most recent episode of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast explores the ramifications of the dissolution of the special grand jury. It also ponders the question as to when the final report could be released and, if so, whether some information will have to be redacted before it is made public. The special grand jury, which cannot issue indictments, has been investigating whether possible crimes were committed here in Georgia after the 2020 presidential election. Episode 22 – “Its Work Is Done” – of Breakdown’s ninth season – “The Trump Grand Jury” – includes interviews with three former district attorneys who oversaw special purpose grand juries and who explain the statutes and case law governing them. And one thing becomes clear: because special grand juries are so rarely used, the process of what happens once one finishes its work is not at all that straightforward. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

30m
Jan 17
S9 Ep. 21 Presentments

As the Fulton County special purpose grand jury investigation winds down, it’s highly likely it is putting together its report and recommendations, formally called a presentment. The most recent episode of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast explores prior presentments issued by special grand juries and explains how the process plays out. Fulton’s special grand jury is investigating former President Donald Trump and his allies for possible criminal interference with the 2020 presidential election. It is not required to write up a presentment, but if it does, will it recommend criminal charges be brought? And will the presentment be made public right away? Or will it be delayed, as it was a decade ago over the objections by special grand jurors in neighboring DeKalb County. Episode 21 of Breakdown’s ninth season – ‘The Trump Grand Jury’ – also reports on the outcome of the legal battle waged by former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who sought to avoid being summoned to Atlanta and testify before the special grand jury. Bill and Tamar want to hear from you. Call anytime with your questions about the special purpose grand jury at (770)810-5297. We'll play back your question and answer it on a future episode of Breakdown. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

35m
Dec 23, 2022
S9 Ep. 20 Breakdown Bonus: It's all politics

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has legal, practical and political considerations to consider as she investigates former President Donald Trump and his allies for alleged meddling with the 2020 election. To explore the latter consideration, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Breakdown podcast turned to Greg Bluestein, the newspaper's politics reporter who broke many of the stories that have become central parts of the special purpose grand jury investigation. In a far-reaching interview, Bluestein weighs in on the probe in light of Trump's recent announcement to run again for president, the possible impact of the investigation on the Georgia Republican party and the potential fate of the 16 Republicans who cast fake Electoral College votes for Trump when the official slate of 16 Democrats voted for President Joe Biden. Episode 20 - 'It's All Politics' - of Breakdown's ninth season - 'The Trump Grand Jury - also provides updates on attempts by former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to avoid testifying before the special grand jury. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

43m
Dec 06, 2022
S9 Ep. 19: The Referee

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney says his oversight of the special purpose grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump and his allies has been "quite a ride." Episode 19 of the ninth season of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Breakdown podcast includes an interview with McBurney, who has now been a judge for 10 years. The AJC's metro columnist, Bill Torpy, interviewed McBurney because it has seemed the judge is the busiest member of Georgia's judiciary. McBurney ruled on the challenge to Georgia's abortion law; he presides over a state judicial watchdog panel; he oversees a drug court program; and he is the trial judge in the murder case against Tex McIver, the former Atlanta lawyer charged with killing his wife, Diane. The latest episode of "The Trump Grand Jury" also includes interviews with two authors of a Brookings Institute report on the Trump investigation. And it covers a hearing for Trump's former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who has been summoned to testify here in Atlanta. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

48m
Nov 22, 2022
S9 Ep. 18: Eastman's prophesy

In an email sent Dec. 31, 2020, attorney John Eastman shared a thought with fellow members of then-President Donald Trump’s legal team. “I have no doubt that an aggressive DA or U.S. Attorney some place will go after both the president and his lawyers once the dust settles on this,” Eastman wrote. Eastman, a former law school dean, was one of the architects behind the fake elector scheme and he authored legal memos detailing a plan in which Vice President Mike Pence could refuse to count some of President Joe Biden’s votes. As for his email, Eastman turned out to be right. He, the former president and other members of the legal team now find themselves under investigation by a Fulton County special purpose grand jury. Episode 18 of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast explores the possible ramifications of emails exchanged between Eastman and other Trump lawyers. The emails were turned over to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and obtained by the news organization Politico. The ninth season of Breakdown – “The Trump Grand Jury” – is closely following the special purpose grand jury probe of possible interference in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Episode 18 also covers the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision involving South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s attempt to avoid testifying before the special grand jury. And it explains what happened in a Virginia courtroom where former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also sought to avoid traveling to Atlanta to testify. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it above. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

35m
Nov 15, 2022
S9 Ep.17: What Trump knew

Could testimony from the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack help Fulton prosecutors prove criminal intent? The 17th episode of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's podcast "Breakdown — The Trump Grand Jury" looks at the testimony from the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Could any of the revelations help Fulton County prosecutors prove criminal intent in regards to former Donald Trump's interference with the 2020 elections in Georgia? The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol produced hours of spellbinding television and its share of shocking revelations. Legal experts say it has also presented testimony that could help Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, should she decide to press charges against former President Donald Trump and his allies for interfering with the 2020 elections. Episode 17 - "What Trump Knew", Breakdown explores some of the testimony from the Select Committee hearings and explains why it could help prosecutors prove criminal intent. Key witnesses have been former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr; former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson; former acting U.S. deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue; Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Alyssa Fara, former White House director of strategic communications. This season, "The Trump Grand Jury," is closely following the special purpose grand jury in Fulton County that is investigating what happened in Georgia in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election. Breakdown's latest episode also takes listeners into a South Carolina courtroom where Mark Meadows, Trump's former chief of staff, tried to ward off an out-of-state material witness subpoena seeking his testimony before the special grand jury in Atlanta. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

37m
Nov 01, 2022
S9 Ep 16: The Phony Slate

When 16 Georgia Republicans met at the state Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, they cast Electoral College votes for Donald Trump, who had not won the state’s presidential election. The 16th episode of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast – “The Trump Grand Jury” — revisits what happened that day and the consequences going forward. The false electors cast their votes the same day 16 Democrats, the official Electoral College electors, publicly cast votes for the man who’d been certified as the victor: President Joe Biden. Fulton County prosecutors heading the special purpose grand jury investigation of former president Trump and his allies have notified the 16 fake electors that they are targets of the probe. This means they could be criminally charged for what they did. In the episode “The Fake Electors,” Breakdown hears from three reporters — the AJC’s Greg Bluestein, Channel 2 Action News’ Richard Elliot and independent journalist George Chidi — who stumbled across the GOP meeting where the GOP “electors” cast votes that were later sent to Congress and the National Archives. The podcast also interviews legal experts who are closely following the case and who give their takes on what occurred. Among those members of the phony slate of Republican electors trying to overturn Biden’s victory was state Sen. Burt Jones, the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor. This summer, Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney handed Jones a victory by disqualifying the Fulton DA’s office from further investigating him because District Attorney Fani Willis hosted a fundraiser for Jones’ opponent, Democrat Charlie Bailey. But Jones is not in the clear yet. The Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia now has jurisdiction and could appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Jones. This means Jones, who is leading in the polls in the race for lieutenant governor, could face a possible indictment. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it above. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

49m
Oct 25, 2022
S9 Ep 15: It's Newt's turn

The latest episode of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast focuses on new out-of-state material witness subpoenas issued by the Fulton County special purpose grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump and his allies. The most notable to receive them are former national security advisor Michael Flynn and former Georgia congressman and House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Also on the list are one of Trump’s former senior advisors, a cyber investigations consultant and a police chaplain from Illinois. The special purpose grand jury, which convened in May, is investigating alleged interference with the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Gingrich has been an election denier since shortly after the 2020 election as evidenced by an interview he gave to Fox News. Democrats stole “five or six states,” Gingrich said. “In Fulton County, Georgia, we believe these people are thieves. We believe the machines are corrupt.” Gingrich’s subpoena says he was involved with the Trump campaign in a plan to air TV ads that “repeated and relied upon false claims about fraud in the 2020 election” and which encouraged viewers “to contact their state officials and pressure them to challenge and overturn the results of the election.” In November 2020, Trump pardoned Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to giving false statements to the FBI during an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Just weeks later, Flynn appeared on Newsmax and said Trump won the 2020 election. Flynn also said Trump “could take military capabilities and he could place them in states and basically rerun an election in each of those states.” You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer above. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

38m
Oct 18, 2022
S9 Ep 14: Breakdown Bonus with the AJC's Bill Torpy and Patricia Murphy

The latest episode of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast explores court filings that suggest a criminal investigation of former President Donald Trump and his allies has reached a new, more sensitive stage. The bonus episode also includes podcast hosts Bill Rankin and Tamar Hallerman interviewing the AJC’s metro columnist, Bill Torpy, and the newspaper’s political columnist, Patricia Murphy. They both have been keeping up with the special purpose grand jury investigation and give some interesting observations on what has happened so far and what may happen in the coming months. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer above. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

48m
Oct 11, 2022
S9 Ep 13: Who's Rico?

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act has been on the books for more than half a century, and Georgia’s version was enacted in 1980. The 13th episode of Season Nine of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast — “The Trump Grand Jury” — takes a deep look at RICO. The episode traces its origin as a prosecutorial weapon to take Mafia dons off the streets. It also looks at how RICO has been used in recent years against schoolteachers, a metro Atlanta sheriff and street gangs. Legal experts following the Fulton County special purpose grand jury investigation into what happened here after the 2020 presidential election say that racketeering charges could ultimately be brought in this case. Episode 13 — “Who’s Rico?” — also looks at a key member of U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s legal team: Don McGahn. McGahn is one of three lawyers hired by Graham who contends the U.S. Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause protects him from having to honor his out-of-state material witness subpoena and testify before the special grand jury. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it above. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

40m
Oct 04, 2022
S9 Ep 12: Breakdown Bonus: What happened in Coffee County, Georgia

The latest episode of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Breakdown” podcast takes a close look at the data breach at the Coffee County elections office which occurred one day after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Podcast hosts Bill Rankin and Tamar Hallerman interview Mark Niesse, the AJC’s elections and voting rights expert. Niesse has covered the wild developments surrounding the Coffee County data breach on Jan. 7, 2021, since news of it first surfaced. He explains how it happened, why news of it first came to light this past May and why state elections officials should be alarmed. The Fulton County special purpose grand jury, which is investigating former President Donald Trump and his allies, has issued subpoenas to Sidney Powell and the data firm SullivanStrickler. Powell, who was once a lawyer for the Trump campaign, oversaw the breach and hired the data firm. Niesse, who was at the Cobb County audit of absentee ballots, also recalls the unusual and sudden visit by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Meadows was told he could not go inside to see what was going on. And Niesse also discusses the state legislative hearings he covered in December 2020 when Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani testified and presented now-debunked evidence of voter fraud. Separately, the 12th episode of “The Trump Grand Jury” also explains why the Fulton special grand jury may be interested in hearing from former Georgia congressman and House Speaker Newt Gingrich. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer above. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

41m
Sep 27, 2022
S9 Ep. 11: Will Trump be invited?

Will Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis subpoena former President Donald Trump before the special purpose grand jury? So far, Willis has sent out-of-state witness subpoenas to Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows; close ally Lindsey Graham, the U.S. senator from South Carolina; and his inner circle of lawyers who tried to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Episode 11 of “The Trump Grand Jury” includes interviews of criminal defense lawyers, law professors and former prosecutors who weigh the pros and cons of trying to compel the former president to come to Atlanta and testify. Since convening in May, the special purpose grand jury has heard testimony from more than 30 witnesses in its investigation of what happened in Georgia in the weeks and months after the 2020 presidential election. In light of recent public comments made by Trump, Episode 11 also revisits another hotly disputed presidential election: the 2000 contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore. This race, like the 2020 election, was decided long after election night and only after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Bush v. Gore. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer above. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

41m
Sep 16, 2022
S9 Ep 10: Closing In

The Fulton County special purpose grand jury investigation is closing in on former President Donald Trump. Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff and close advisor, has been served an out-of-state witness subpoena to appear before the grand jury. The 10th episode of “The Trump Grand Jury,” the ninth season of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast, explores the ramifications of Meadows’ subpoena. The special purpose grand jury has been meeting since May to investigate Trump and his allies over what happened in Georgia in the months following the 2020 presidential election. Others, including lawyer Sidney Powell, who briefly represented the Trump campaign, have also been served out-of-state subpoenas. All the while, District Attorney Fani Willis continues her string of courtroom victories against witnesses who have tried to assert privileges and immunities as a way of not appearing before the 23-person special purpose grand jury. Episode 10 covers a court hearing pitting lawyers for Gov. Brian Kemp against Fulton prosecutors as well as Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney’s cleverly written ruling that is issued just a few days later. The episode also covers developments in the subpoenas issued to Trump’s inner circle of attorneys and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from ajc.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

42m
Sep 07, 2022
S9 Ep 9: The Pinball Machine

AJC journalists Bill Rankin and Tamar Hallerman focus on former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's grand jury appearance and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham's attempts to avoid his testimony by the Fulton County special purpose grand jury of former President Donald Trump and his allies for what happened in Georgia after the 2020 presidential election. Giuliani, who has been Trump's personal lawyer, showed up at the Fulton courthouse to testify before the grand jury after his lawyers had tried unsuccessfully to postpone it. Graham, who placed two phone calls to the Secretary of State's office in the weeks after the election, was scheduled to testify before the special grand jury on Tuesday. But the federal appeals court in Atlanta - the fifth court so far to be involved in Graham's case - stepped in two days before the South Carolina senator was to appear and delayed his appearance. Rankin and Hallerman also cover the dustup between Gov. Brian Kemp and the Fulton District Attorney's Office and decisions by judges in Colorado and New Mexico ordering two other lawyers who represented the Trump campaign to come to Atlanta and testify before the grand jury. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from ajc.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

45m
Aug 25, 2022
S9 Ep 8: Trump’s new legal team

Former President Donald Trump has assembled a legal team to defend him before the Fulton County special purpose grand jury that is investigating possible meddling that occurred in Georgia after the 2020 presidential election. The eighth episode of “The Trump Grand Jury,” the ninth season of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Breakdown” podcast, introduces listeners to Trump’s new attorneys. Atlanta lawyer Drew Findling is nationally known for representing hip-hop superstars and, in the past, has been a strong critic of the former president. Jennifer Little is a former prosecutor who has helped targets of criminal probes get out of jams. And Decatur lawyer Dwight Thomas is considered to be an expert on special purpose grand juries, having represented clients before three of them. The episode also covers former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s attempt to delay his testimony before the Fulton grand jury. And it notes that Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, learns he is a target of the investigation. There is also a court battle waged by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to quash his material witness subpoena. His lawyers, including former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn, appeared in Atlanta before U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May to argue the senator’s case. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from ajc.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

50m
Aug 17, 2022
S9 Ep 7: Planting the seeds of truth

The public release of the recording of the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call from then-President Donald Trump to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was the impetus for what is now an ongoing special purpose grand jury investigation. Raffensperger and a top aide, Gabe Sterling, sit for an interview and talk about the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath. During the phone call, Raffensperger disagreed with Trump’s assertions that he had won Georgia by hundreds of thousands of votes, not lost the election by 11,779 votes. And even though Trump alternately pleaded, insulted and threatened Raffensperger, the secretary held firm. The episode also examines a surprise ruling by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney that bars District Attorney Fani Willis and her office from calling lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Burt Jones before the grand jury or considering him to be a target of the investigation. Jones was one of 16 alternative electors who cast votes for Trump during a meeting in the state Capitol. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from ajc.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

41m
Aug 01, 2022
S9 Ep 6: One for the history books

One sitting president was placed under arrest for speeding. Two former presidents came extremely close to being indicted, one from an investigation arising from the Watergate scandal, the other from the Whitewater controversy. Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters Bill Rankin and Tamar Hallerman examine past criminal cases involving presidents and vice presidents. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is overseeing the special purpose grand jury investigation of former President Donald Trump and his allies for what happened here following the 2020 presidential election. But she does not have much of a playbook to follow because no president or former president has ever been indicted. The episode also recaps a busy week of developments in the grand jury investigation. This includes the outcomes of subpoenas being issued to Trump’s former personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from ajc.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

57m
Jul 25, 2022
S9, Ep 5: The out-of-state witness subpoenas

The fifth episode of “The Trump Grand Jury,” the ninth season of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast, recaps a busy period for the special purpose grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump and his allies. There are a flurry of witnesses coming in to testify about what happened at the state Capitol in the weeks after the November 2020 presidential election. There is a courtroom scuffle over legislative immunity. And there is the issuance of seven out-of-state material witness subpoenas that penetrate former president Trump’s inner circle. Recipients of the subpoenas include attorneys Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and Cleta Mitchell. Also on the receiving end was U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. In an interview with Breakdown, District Attorney Fani Willis said the pushback was expected. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from ajc.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

51m
Jul 18, 2022
S09, Ep. 4: A Guilty Mind?

The fourth episode of “The Trump Grand Jury,” the ninth season of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast, focuses on criminal intent as part of the podcast’s continuing coverage of the Fulton County special purpose grand jury that is investigating what Donald Trump and his allies did in Georgia following the 2020 president election. If a criminal indictment is ultimately brought, prosecutors must show criminal intent – that Trump and others knew what they were doing was illegal and that they meant to break Georgia law. During a phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, Trump said he needed to “find 11,780 votes.” That was exactly how many he needed to overturn the presidential election results in Georgia.   Trump also told Raffensperger “there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you’ve recalculated” the vote totals. But Raffensperger held firm, saying he believed in the official vote count, which showed Trump had lost in Georgia. This phone call is at the heart of the special purpose grand jury’s investigation and legal experts are divided on whether it shows Trump had criminal intent. And, somewhat surprisingly, it is not a matter that falls neatly along party lines – even some of Trump’s harshest critics say they don’t see a crime. Breakdown’s fourth episode also looks at the possible defenses the president could raise if an indictment is returned. No president or former president has ever been indicted. So if this happens the prosecution, the defense and the courts will be breaking new ground. “There are all kinds of hurdles the prosecution would have to overcome with prosecuting an ex-president,” Atlanta criminal defense attorney Don Samuel says on the podcast. “It wouldn’t surprise me if that ends up in the U.S. Supreme Court before it ever ends up in a courtroom.” You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from ajc.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

46m
Jul 11, 2022
S05, Ep. 12 The Tex McIver Case: Georgia Supreme Court strikes again

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast drops a special episode on Friday for Season 5: “The Tex McIver Case.” McIver, an Atlanta lawyer, was convicted of murder during a trial in Fulton County for killing his wife on Sept. 25, 2016. The killing happened when Tex and Diane McIver returned home to Atlanta from their 84-acre ranch in Putnam County. Diane McIver’s best friend, Dani Jo Carter, was driving the Ford Expedition. Diane McIver was sitting in the front passenger seat, her husband sitting behind her in the back seat. After they exited the downtown connector on Edgewood Avenue, Tex McIver asks for his .38-caliber handgun that’s in the center console. He later says he thought they had come upon a Black Lives Matter protest. They leave the area without incident and drive along Piedmont Avenue toward Buckhead, with McIver still holding the revolver in his lap. When they get to an intersection, McIver fires a bullet through the backseat. It hits his wife in the back and she later dies during surgery at Emory University Hospital. McIver tells police that it was a tragic accident, that the gun went off after he had fallen asleep and was suddenly awakened. But he is eventually indicted for murder and convicted of it during a 2018 trial. Returning to Breakdown’s fifth season, Episode 12 follows the McIver case through its appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court which issued its opinion on June 30. Just eight days before, the state high court had reversed another high-profile murder case against Justin Ross Harris who had left his 22-month-old son Cooper in his hot car to die. This time, the court overturns McIver’s conviction in another momentous decision. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from ajc.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

39m
Jul 08, 2022
S09, Ep. 3: Is there a criminal case?

Is there a criminal case to be brought against former President Donald Trump and his allies for what happened in Georgia following the 2020 presidential election? The third episode of “The Trump Grand Jury,” the ninth season of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast, explores that possibility. A Fulton County special purpose grand jury that is investigating the issue will ultimately recommend whether criminal charges should be brought. In a letter to top state officials, District Attorney Fani Willis listed a half dozen laws the former president and others may have broken. They are: solicitation of election fraud, giving false statements, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and making threats related to the administration of the state’s elections. In Breakdown’s third episode – “Is There A Criminal Case?” – legal experts discuss a number of incidents, including Trump’s Jan. 2, 2020, call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; his lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s testimony before state legislative committees; and the slate of fake electors who met in secret at the state Capitol the same day Democrats cast Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes for Biden. As to whether Trump broke the law, it depends on who you ask. John Banzhaf, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University, doesn’t think it’s a close call. “Looking specifically at the Trump situation, when I read and then heard the actual tape recording of the conversation, it jumped out at me as being about as clear and specific and unambiguous evidence of a crime,” he said. But Atlanta lawyer Randy Evans, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Luxembourg, doesn’t see it that way. “If we narrow down to the particulars of what I understand the DA to be looking into, which is whether there’s any criminal or illegal conduct, I don’t even think it’s really close, to be fair,” he said. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from ajc.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

48m
Jul 04, 2022
S02 Ep. 18: A Momentous Decision

This is the murder case against Justin Ross Harris, who left his 22-month-old son Cooper to die in a hot car on June 18, 2014. Harris, a Home Depot web developer, took Cooper that morning to Little Apron Academy, the in-house daycare center at work. They stopped at a Chick-fil-A for breakfast. But when they leave, Harris doesn’t make the turn to the daycare. Instead, he drives to work, parks his car and walks in to the office. Within hours, Cooper is dead of hypothermia. The intense publicity of the case went worldwide when it was disclosed at a preliminary hearing that Harris was sending sexually explicit texts to other women shortly before and after he left Cooper in the parking lot. It would be disclosed he was having extramarital affairs, sleeping with prostitutes and exchanging graphic texts with underage girls. Harris would be indicted for Cooper’s murder and other crimes. Because of intense pretrial publicity, the trial was moved from Cobb County to Glynn County in coastal Georgia. The jury in Brunswick would convict Harris of Cooper’s murder and he would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Before and during the trial, Harris’ defense lawyers said what Harris did was a tragic mistake because he loved his son. They also tried to keep evidence of Harris’ deviant sexual behavior from being presented to the jury, arguing it was unfairly prejudicial. Prosecutors contended it showed Harris’ motive — to life a child-free life so he pursue sexual relations. Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark sided with prosecutors and let it all in. The jury heard days of testimony about the affairs, the graphic texts and the prostitutes. This became a major thrust of Harris’ appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court in his bid for a new trial. The case was argued this past January and the court released its decision on June 22. Breakdown’s Episode 18 of “Death in a Hot Car; Mistake or Murder?” covers the court’s momentous ruling and the aftermath. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from ajc.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

45m
Jun 30, 2022
S09, Ep. 2: A force of nature

The second episode of “The Trump Grand Jury,” the ninth season of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast, focuses on the woman who is overseeing the investigation of former President Donald Trump and his allies. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis grew up in courtrooms, tagging along with her father, an attorney. When Willis became a prosecutor, she rose through the ranks at the Fulton DA’s Office prosecuting homicide and sexual assault cases. In 2014, Willis oversaw one of the most high-profile cases in state history: the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal. Thirty-five educators were indicted under the state’s racketeering laws. Many pleaded guilty and of the 12 who went to trial, 11 were convicted. “I’m still not totally sure how she did it, but she did it,” said Atlanta lawyer John Floyd, a racketeering law expert who assisted Willis in the test-cheating trial. “She was a bit of a force of nature in the sense that she was completely committed to the case.” Episode 2 will also explain exactly how a special purpose grand jury operates and what it can and cannot do. It will also tell listeners how they will know if, after it adjourns, it is recommending criminal charges be brought. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer in the player above. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

42m
Jun 27, 2022
S09, Ep. 01: The January 2nd phone call

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was sitting in his kitchen on the afternoon of Jan. 2, 2021, when he received a phone call from the White House. President Donald Trump, his chief of staff and some of his lawyers were on the line. During the conversation, Trump told Raffensperger to “find” him 11,780 votes to overturn the election results. That was one more than the 11,779-vote margin that gave Georgia’s 16 electoral college votes to President Joe Biden and turned Georgia Democratic for the first time since 1992. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s award-winning Breakdown podcast returns for its ninth season — The Trump Grand Jury — to cover an investigation into that hourlong phone call as well as other events in Georgia that happened in the weeks following Election Day. Episode One explores what happened during the phone call between Trump and Raffensperger as well as another call made to Frances Watson, the Secretary of State’s lead elections investigator. Both conversations were recorded. The AJC’s legal affairs reporter, Bill Rankin, returns as the host of Season 9 of the Breakdown podcast. He is joined by senior reporter Tamar Hallerman, who covered the Trump White House when she was the newspaper’s Washington correspondent. You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer in the player above. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

45m
Jun 20, 2022
S09, Ep. 0: Breakdown Season 9 Trailer

The phone call from the White House came in at about 3 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2021. Then President Donald Trump, his chief of staff and his lawyers were on the line talking to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and members of his staff. During the recorded phone call, Trump asked Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” which would give him one more vote than he needed to flip the outcome of Georgia’s presidential election. On Monday, a special purpose grand jury will convene in Fulton County to investigate what transpired during this phone call and others the former president made to officials in Georgia in the weeks following the 2020 election. The extraordinary proceeding will be the focus of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s award-winning podcast “Breakdown”. Episodes of the podcast’s ninth season — The Trump Grand Jury — will be released in the coming weeks. It will be hosted by Bill Rankin, the AJC’s legal affairs reporter, and Tamar Hallerman, a senior reporter who covered the Trump administration when she was the AJC’s Washington correspondent. To make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe to “Breakdown” anywhere you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Sitcher For more information on this case and the other eight series of the podcast, go to ajcbreakdown.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

7m
Apr 29, 2022
S08, Ep. 19: Life in prison

In an emotional hearing, Judge Timothy Walmsley has the last word as he sentences Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and Roddie Bryan for killing Ahmaud Arbery. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

1h 2m
Jan 16, 2022
S04, Ep 7: Devonia Inman is a free man

After 23 years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction, Devonia Inman is finally free. Here are the improbable events that led to his release, and what Inman has to say about his experience. Plus, the new Cook County district attorney doesn't mince words about how the case went to trial two decades ago. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

47m
Jan 09, 2022
S08, Ep. 18: 'We have a verdict'

After about 10 hours of deliberation, the jury hearing the case against the three men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery reached its verdict. The 18th episode of Season 8 of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast covers the verdict’s outcome and its aftermath. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

1h 18m
Nov 29, 2021
S08, Ep. 17: Ahmaud Arbery's killer takes the witness stand

It isn’t often a defendant takes the witness stand with his life on the line. But Travis McMichael did just that last week. He might as well have had the life of his father, Greg McMichael, on the line, too. The 18th episode of the Eighth Season of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Breakdown” podcast focuses on what happened inside the courtroom and outside of it as the trial for the McMichaels and William “Roddie” Bryan near an end. All three men are being tried for the alleged murder of Ahmaud Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

1h 22m
Nov 22, 2021