Georgia judge orders limited release of grand jury report on Trump election interference
A Georgia judge on Monday ordered the release of limited portions of a report from a grand jury tasked with reviewing election interference in 2020 as former President Trump sought to reverse his loss in the state.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who is overseeing the grand jury’s work, declined to fully release the grand jury report, which is expected to include charging recommendations.
Instead, he ordered the release of three portions of the report on Thursday.
McBurney’s decision largely sided with an argument from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D), who pledged to soon make charging decisions and said the report’s release could create challenges for future defendants to get a fair trial.
Jurors involved in crafting the report had previously determined it should be released to the public.
“There were no lawyers advocating for any targets of the investigation,” McBurney wrote in the eight-page decision, noting the process is “entirely appropriately – a one-sided exploration.”
“Potential future defendants were not able to present evidence outside the scope of what the district attorney asked them. They were not able to call their own witnesses who might rebut what other State’s witnesses had said and they had no ability to present mitigating evidence. Put differently, there was very limited due process in this process for those who might be named as indictment-worthy in the final report.”
The release will include the introduction and conclusion of the report as well as a section discussing concern that some witnesses may have lied under oath. That section of the report does not identify any witnesses.
McBurney noted the delay ahead of the release is designed to allow Willis to advocate for redactions in any of the sections.
Willis’s case is seen as one of the most promising pathways for an eventual prosecution of Trump, who in a phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) asked him to “find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.”
In a January hearing on the matter, Willis stressed multiple defendants could have their right to a fair trial implicated by the report’s release.
“We have to be mindful of protecting future defendants’ rights. And so what the state does not want to see happen — and don’t think that there’s any way that the court would be able to guarantee — is that if that report was released, there somehow could be arguments made that it impacts the right for later individuals — multiple — to get a fair trial, to have a fair hearing, to be able to be tried in this jurisdiction,” Willis said at the outset of the hearing.
“Decisions are imminent,” she added.
The case could impact a number in Trump’s orbit as well as the former president himself.
The known targets in Georgia include former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and 16 Republicans who held a meeting to carry out the fake elector plot by voting to certify the election for Trump.
Trump’s attorneys did not attend the January hearing and noted that Trump was never subpoenaed or asked to voluntarily appear before the grand jury.
“We can assume that the grand jury did their job and looked at the facts and the law, as we have, and concluded there were no violations of the law by President Trump,” Trump attorneys Drew Findling, Marissa Goldberg and Jennifer Little said in a joint statement at the time.
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