Last week, a federal judge in Washington moved to limit former President Donald Trump’s ability to speak publicly about certain evidence in his 2020 election conspiracy trial over fears he would use his public platform to intimidate witnesses.
On Monday morning, just days later, Trump insulted a witness in a completely separate investigation — the Fulton County, Georgia, probe into his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state — and urged the man, Georgia’s former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, not to testify.
What You Need To Know
- On Monday morning, former President Donald Trump insulted a witness in the the Fulton County, Georgia, probe into his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state and urged the man, Georgia’s former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, not to testify
- Duncan, a Republican, confirmed on social media over the weekend that he was slated to testify to a grand jury on Tuesday as the probe by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis reportedly wraps up
- Trump has frequently taken to social media and rally stages to attack the prosecutors, judges, and potential witnesses involved in the investigations into him, which so far include three criminal trials and 78 felony counts
- The heightened rhetoric around the trials, particularly as the 2024 election approaches, has raised fears about an increased risk of political violence
“I am reading reports that failed former Lt. Governor of Georgia, Jeff Duncan, will be testifying before the Fulton County Grand Jury. He shouldn’t,” Trump warned on his social media platform. “I barely know him but he was, right from the beginning of this Witch Hunt, a nasty disaster for those looking into the Election Fraud that took place in Georgia.”
“He refused having a Special Session to find out what went on, became very unpopular with Republicans (I refused to endorse him!), and fought the TRUTH all the way,” Trump continued, adding that he thought Duncan was “a loser.”
On CNN on Monday, Duncan declined to comment on the remarks by Trump beyond noting a mistake the former president had made.
“He did misspell my name,” the former lieutenant governor, who is now a CNN commentator, said.
Duncan, a Republican, confirmed on social media over the weekend that he was slated to testify to a grand jury on Tuesday as the probe by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis reportedly wraps up.
“I look forward to answering their questions around the 2020 election,” Duncan said. “Republicans should never let honesty be mistaken for weakness.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution later reported that the grand jury appearances of Duncan and another witness, independent journalist George Chidi, had been moved to Monday. Chidi confirmed the timeline for his own testimony in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
"Change of plans. I'm going to court today. They're moving faster than they thought," Chidi wrote.
Duncan could not be reached for comment. Willis’ office did not immediately return a request for comment.
In a separate post on Monday, Trump also appealed to the grand jury, saying “WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE TELL THE FULTON COUNTY GRAND JURY THAT I DID NOT TAMPER WITH THE ELECTION.”
In December 2020, Trump and his allies urged Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Duncan to call a special session of the state’s General Assembly to award Georgia’s electors to the then-president instead of his rival, Joe Biden, who won the state by around 12,000 votes. Kemp and Duncan, both Republicans who supported Trump during the campaign, publicly rejected the idea.
"We certainly will not move the goalposts at this point in the election. We’re going to continue to follow the letter of the law which gives us a very clear cut direction as to how to execute an election,” Duncan said in a Dec. 6, 2020 interview on CNN.
He added when Trump attacked him, Kemp and Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, the elected officials and their families received heightened security.
"It disgusts me,” Duncan said at the time. "All of us in this position have got increased security around us and our families and it's not American, it's not what democracy is all about, but it's reality right now.”
On Jan. 2, 2021, just days before Trump would go on to urge his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol, Trump called Raffensperger and told him he wanted to “find 11,780 votes, which is one more than” the margin he lost by in Georgia. When Raffensperger and other officials declined to go along with the scheme, Trump said they were committing a crime.
“The ballots are corrupt. And you are going to find that they are — which is totally illegal — it is more illegal for you than it is for them because, you know, what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal, that’s a criminal offense,” Trump said. “And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. And that’s a big risk.”
In his book published later that year, Raffensperger wrote he felt Trump was threatening him and connected the then-president’s attacks to death threats texted to his wife and his evacuation from the Georgia state capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 as Trump supporters entered the building on the same day their compatriots stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
“Others obviously thought so, too, because some of Trump’s more radical followers have responded as if it was their duty to carry out this threat,” Raffensperger wrote.
Trump has frequently taken to social media and rally stages to attack the prosecutors, judges, and potential witnesses involved in the investigations into him, which so far include three criminal trials and 78 felony counts.
Earlier on Monday morning, just after 1 a.m., Trump attacked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over his election case in Washington, calling her “highly partisan” and “VERY BIASED & UNFAIR!”
“She obviously wants me behind bars,” Trump opined. Chutkan warned him last week that “inflammatory statements” could lead her to expediting the trial to avoid a tainted jury pool. He has repeatedly called for her to recuse herself from the case.
And in a speech last week in New Hampshire, Trump called the special prosecutor overseeing his federal criminal cases “deranged” and a “thug.” He described Willis as “racist” and baselessly accused her of having an affair with someone she was investigating. And he said his former vice president, Mike Pence, was “delusional” and “not a very good person” on social media on Saturday.
Pence’s testimony and records are integral to special prosecutor Jack Smith’s indictment of the former president in the 2020 election conspiracy case and he may be called to testify at the trial. Trump’s legal team floated last week that they may call Pence themselves.
The heightened rhetoric around the trials, particularly as the 2024 election approaches, has raised fears about an increased risk of political violence.
After Trump attacked the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who is leading a New York state prosecution of the former president, his office received death threats and at least two letters containing “suspicious white powder” that required authorities to come and verify it wasn’t powderized Anthrax, a bacterium that can be used as a biological weapon.
“Alvin, I am going to kill you,” one letter with white powder said, according to the Associated Press.
And on Wednesday last week, the FBI shot and killed a Utah man as they attempted to arrest him for threatening to assassinate Biden, Bragg, Vice President Kamala Harris and other prominent Democrats. The heavily armed, self-identified Trump supporter lived just minutes away from Salt Lake City, where Biden was set to appear later that afternoon.
“Hey Merrick Garland, you Demented Weasel, Send your FBI Swat Team to my house,” the man wrote in a September 2022 Facebook post, according to the complaint. “I’m a MAGA TRUMPER. You won’t because I fight back against cowards!”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.