ATLANTA — The FBI has joined an investigation into a barrage of threats against Fulton County officials in recent days, including members of the Atlanta-area grand jury that voted to indict former president Donald Trump and 18 of his allies in a sweeping criminal case focused on alleged 2020 election interference.
A spokesperson for the FBI Atlanta office said that the agency is “aware of threats of violence” against Fulton County officials and that it is working with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office to investigate — but declined to identify specific targets or whether anyone has acted on those threats.
“It is our policy not to discuss details of ongoing investigations,” the FBI statement said. “However, each and every potential threat brought to our attention is taken seriously. Individuals found responsible for making threats in violation of state and/or federal laws will be prosecuted.”
The statement came amid growing concern about the safety of grand jurors involved in Monday’s indictment after the names, home addresses, photos, and social media profiles of some members of the panel circulated online along with threatening messages targeting them and Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D), whose office is prosecuting the case.
Under Georgia law, names of grand jurors are publicly listed on indictments — an effort at transparency that some have questioned in light of ongoing threats in the aftermath of the charges against Trump and 18 others accused of conspiring to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results.
In a statement Thursday, a spokeswoman for Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat said investigators with the department were “working closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to track down the origin of threats in Fulton County and other jurisdictions.”
“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 statement said.
Local police departments, including the Atlanta police, have also been monitoring threats against the jurors and are prepared to respond quickly if needed, according to an official who, like others in this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about sensitive security issues.
In addition to statements targeting the grand jurors, there have been increased threats against Willis and other county officials in recent days, according to a person familiar with the matter. The courthouse building has been the subject of repeated bomb threats, this person said. Most county employees have been working remotely this week.
Some of those threats have also targeted Labat, who made headlines in recent weeks when he announced Trump would be treated like any other defendant in Fulton County by being fingerprinted and processed at the main county jail, a notorious facility that is the subject of a federal civil rights investigation by the Justice Department.
Security has been increased in recent days for Willis, who has repeatedly raised concerns about racist, threatening phone calls and emails to her and her staff since she launched the investigation into Trump and his allies 2 1/2 years ago. Willis, the first Black woman elected as Fulton County district attorney, has faced intensifying, derogatory attacks from Trump, who repeatedly called her a “racist” and accused her of seeking to interfere with his 2024 campaign for president.
A spokesman for Willis declined to comment on security issues.
Extremism monitors have tracked dozens of examples of violent online rhetoric aimed at the jurors and Willis.
As soon as the indictment was published, the grand jurors’ names swirled in right-wing online forums, often accompanied by photos and personal information, including addresses. Several jurors disabled their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles. Extremists posted screenshots of the pages.
In the forums, users imagined the jurors being tried and convicted of indicting Trump, with thinly veiled references to death sentences or vigilante justice, according to a compilation released by Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan research group that tracks extremist threats.
“These jurors have signed their death warrant by falsely indicting President Trump,” one user wrote in a large forum for pro-Trump extremists, according to the report.
In other forums, users referred to the grand jurors’ names as a “hit list,” prompting a reply about long-range rifles, according to the left-leaning watchdog group Media Matters. The report also included an exchange where users were trying to determine the racial and religious backgrounds of the jurors. “There are only 2 names on there that could be jewish,” one user said, listing the names.
As with Trump’s previous indictments, chatter about “civil war” also surged, briefly trending on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. The notion that the indictments cleaved the nation into “us vs. them” was reinforced by prominent right-wing politicians, conservative news outlets and far-right podcasters.
“You are in a civil war,” proclaimed the podcaster Tim Pool, who boasts millions of subscribers across platforms. The declaration was mocked by left-wing activists who pointed out that Pool previously has tried in vain to whip up his followers after Trump legal developments.
In anti-government Telegram channels, the sentiment among self-styled members of armed groups was less about defending Trump and more about outrage at what they perceive as prosecutorial overreach, probably aided by what one popular post deemed a “leftist puppet master.”
Though armed groups largely have been quiet in recent months — in part because of the Justice Department’s prosecution of extremists involved in the U.S. Capitol attack of Jan. 6, 2021 — monitoring groups have warned that they shouldn’t be discounted as a threat, particularly as Trump’s multiple criminal indictments play out.
In Atlanta, the sheriff’s office has intensified security around the main jail, where Trump and others charged have been given until noon next Friday to turn themselves in to be fingerprinted and processed.
Willis has requested formal arraignment hearings for the defendants to be held the week of Sept. 5 — though Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the case, has not yet responded.
Allam reported from Washington.