Trump attorneys seek to throw out special grand jury report on 2020 election interference in Georgia
(CNN) — Attorneys for former President Donald Trump have asked for a judge to toss the final report and evidence from a special grand jury in Georgia that spent months investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election.
Trump’s attorneys also are asking that a judge disqualify the Fulton County District Attorney’s office from overseeing the investigation, according to a new court filing.
“President Donald J. Trump hereby moves to quash the SPGJ’s [special purpose grand jury’s] report and preclude the use of any evidence derived therefrom, as it was conducted under an unconstitutional statute, through an illegal and unconstitutional process, and by a disqualified District Attorney’s Office who violated prosecutorial standards and acted with disregard for the gravity of the circumstances and the constitutional rights of those involved,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in the filing.
The motion to quash the special grand jury’s work and disqualify the district attorney’s office from pursuing any charges in the case is Trump’s first effort to intervene in the long-running investigation conducted by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat. It signals the aggressive approach Trump’s attorneys are likely to take in fighting any potential charges Trump could face.
So far, no one has been charged in Georgia.
Willis’ office is considering bringing racketeering and conspiracy charges, CNN reported Monday.
CNN has requested comment from the Fulton County District Attorney’s office.
The wide-ranging objections by Trump’s attorneys cover a number of decisions by the judge who oversaw the grand jury, the conduct of the Fulton County district attorney and a variety of interviews last month by the special grand jury’s foreperson.
A special grand jury investigating Trump and his associates concluded its work in December and a judge overseeing the panel made small slivers of the report public in February. After the partial release, a foreperson for the panel went on a media tour during which she indicated roughly a dozen individuals had been recommended for criminal charges.
The foreperson, Emily Kohrs, declined to say whether the special grand jury recommended criminal charges for Trump, telling CNN last month: “There may be some names on that list that you wouldn’t expect. But the big name that everyone keeps asking me about — I don’t think you will be shocked.”
Special grand juries in Georgia can issue subpoenas and collect evidence, such as documents and testimony, but they cannot issue indictments. Instead, they write a final report that includes recommendations on whether anyone should face criminal charges. Then it’s up to the district attorney to decide whether to seek indictments from the regularly seated grand juries.
Trump’s attorneys raised objections to several issues related to the special grand jury process, including the series of interviews by the foreperson and a recent media interview with other members of the special grand jury, who spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution anonymously.
“The results of the investigation cannot be relied upon and, therefore, must be suppressed given the constitutional violations,” Trump’s attorneys argued in the new filing. “The foreperson’s public comments in and of themselves likewise violate notions of fundamental fairness and due process and taint any future grand jury pool.”
Trump’s team also argued that Willis’ office should have been disqualified from overseeing the entire case when we she was blocked from investigating now-Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, a Trump ally who served as a fake elector after the 2020 election. They also took issue with the media interviews Willis has provided.
“The resulting prejudicial taint cannot be excised from the results of the investigation or any future prosecution,” Trump’s attorneys wrote, adding that the media interviews “violate prosecutorial standards and constitute forensic misconduct, and her social media activity creates the appearance of impropriety compounding the necessity for disqualification.”
Trump’s legal team raised objections as well with how Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney oversaw the grand jury and interviews he provided after the panel’s work concluded. CNN was among the media outlets to interview McBurney.
“The Supervising Judge made inappropriate and prejudicial comments relating to the conduct under investigation as well as potential witnesses invocation of the Fifth Amendment,” according to the Trump attorneys. “He improperly applied the law and subsequently denied appellate review while knowing his application of the law in that manner had vast implications on the constitutionality of the investigation.”
They argued that McBurney was incorrect in determining the special grand jury was a criminal investigative body, a decision that weighed heavily with other judges who forced out-of-state witnesses to comply with subpoenas they received to appear before the panel.