Special prosecutor appointed to investigate Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones in Trump election case

A new special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones’ activities following the 2020 election nearly two years after a judge disqualified Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Nearly two years after a judge disqualified Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from investigating Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones’ activities following the 2020 election, a special prosecutor has been appointed to handle the case.

Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, has appointed himself to assume the investigation. Under Georgia code, the council’s executive director can appoint a special prosecutor if a district attorney is disqualified from a case. Several prosecutors had been reluctant to take on this particular assignment.

Fulton County prosecutors had been investigating Jones for signing onto a slate of electors for then-President Donald Trump after Joe Biden won Georgia’s electoral votes. Prosecutors ultimately charged three of the electors with filing false documents and forgery, among other felonies, in a sweeping racketeering indictment against Trump and more than a dozen others. 

Prosecutors allege that efforts to submit Trump electors were part of a plot to help overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia and other swing states. The three electors facing charges, as well as Jones, have said they did nothing illegal. 

“I’m happy to see this process move forward and look forward to the opportunity to get this charade behind me,” Jones wrote in a statement on Thursday. “Fani Willis has made a mockery of this legal process, as she tends to do. I look forward to a quick resolution and moving forward with the business of the state of Georgia.” 

A judge disqualified Willis in July 2022 from further investigating Jones after she hosted a fundraiser for his Democratic opponent in the race for lieutenant governor.

“It’s a ‘what are you thinking’ moment,” Fulton Superior Judge Robert McBurney said at the time. “The optics are horrific.”

In March, a judge allowed Willis to stay on the Trump case after several defendants accused her of misconduct stemming from a romantic relationship with a special prosecutor she appointed for the case. The judge said Willis could remain on the case only if special prosecutor Nathan Wade resigned. He left the case hours later. Appeals to that decision are ongoing. 

A trial has not been set for Trump and his co-defendants.

Skandalakis has served as a special prosecutor on high-profile cases before. In 2021, Attorney General Chris Carr appointed Skandalakis to take over investigating two white police officers involved in the killing of Rayshard Brooks, a 21-year-old Black man who had been sleeping in his car in a Wendy’s drive-thru lane. Willis had recused her office from the case. 

Skandalakis ultimately declined to charge the two officers.

A press release announcing Skandalakis’ appointment to take over the Jones matter did not offer details about what will happen next in the case, citing state bar rules.

“No further comments will be made at this time,” the release said.