Georgia Judge to Release Grand Jury Findings in Trump Election Inquiry

A judge in Atlanta is expected to release portions of a report on Thursday detailing the findings of a special purpose grand jury that examined whether former President Donald J. Trump and some of his allies violated Georgia law in their efforts to overturn Mr. Trump’s 2020 election loss in the state.

Special grand juries cannot issue indictments, but they can recommend whether criminal charges should be sought. Earlier this week, Judge Robert C.I. McBurney of Fulton County Superior Court ruled that much of the jury’s final report should not be disclosed until after Fani T. Willis, the local district attorney, makes her own charging decisions.

Still, he ordered the report’s introduction and conclusion to be made public, along with a section detailing the special grand jury’s concerns about witnesses lying under oath.

Judge McBurney wrote that revealing the grand jury’s specific recommendations now would create “due process deficiencies” that would be unfair to anyone who might be “named as indictment-worthy in the final report.” But legal experts say the judge’s decision to keep much of the report secret strongly suggests that the special grand jury determined that someone deserves to be indicted.

“We’re at the cusp of something consequential, I think,” said Clark D. Cunningham, a professor at Georgia State University College of Law, who has been following the case closely.

Politics Across the United States

From the halls of government to the campaign trail, here’s a look at the political landscape in America.

Ms. Willis’s office has been conducting the investigation for the last two years. Much of it — including interviews with dozens of witnesses — was conducted before the special grand jury, which under Georgia law had to issue a final report on its findings.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, and David Shafer, the head of the Georgia Republican Party, are among those who were told that they were targets of the inquiry who could face criminal charges. Other witnesses who appeared before the special grand jury include Senator Lindsey Graham and Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp.

In his ruling earlier this week, Judge McBurney said the special grand jury raised concerns in its report “that some witnesses may have lied under oath during their testimony.” While his eight-page ruling included few other revelations, it did indicate that the special grand jury’s findings are serious. The report includes “a roster of who should (or should not) be indicted, and for what, in relation to the conduct (and aftermath) of the 2020 general election in Georgia,” Judge McBurney wrote.

The seriousness of the investigation has been clear for some time. Last January, in seeking a special grand jury, Ms. Willis told a judge that her office had concluded that there was “a reasonable probability” that the state’s administration of the 2020 election “was subject to possible criminal disruptions.”

The catalyst for the investigation was a phone call Mr. Trump made to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, on Jan. 2, 2021, asking him to recalculate the election results and “find” the nearly 12,000 votes Mr. Trump would have needed to win the state’s electoral votes. Mr. Trump also suggested that failing to act on the fraud he falsely claimed had occurred could constitute “a criminal offense.”

Mr. Raffensperger, in a book later that year, wrote, “For the office of the secretary of state to ‘recalculate’ would mean we would somehow have to fudge the numbers. The president was asking me to do something that I knew was wrong, and I was not going to do that.”

Another area of scrutiny is a strategy the Trump team devised to have Trump supporters in states that the president lost act as if they were official Electoral College delegates, an attempt to circumvent voters. Evidence has emerged, including from the recent report by the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, suggesting that Mr. Trump was not on the periphery of the plan, but at the center of it.

Court records show that the special grand jury scrutinized other actions taken by Trump supporters in Georgia after the election, including an alleged plot to pressure an election worker in Fulton County to falsely admit that she committed fraud and an election data breach in rural Coffee County, Ga., carried out by a separate group of Trump allies.

Source: Read Full Article