For The Record

Trump lawyers try to smother Fulton grand jury report on 2020 election interference

By: - March 20, 2023 3:22 pm

A Brookings Institute report released in November 2022 predicts that former President Donald Trump and Georgia’s fake electoral voters are vulnerable to facing criminal charges this year as part of the criminal investigation into whether Trump or his allies broke Georgia law by trying to overturn the 2020 election results. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former president Donald Trump has launched a legal challenge to block the release of the Fulton County special grand jury report and stop the district attorney from pursuing criminal charges against him, his inner circle and other supporters connected to interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.

Trump’s attorneys filed a motion in Fulton County Superior Court Monday seeking to quash the grand jury report that found that multiple witnesses perjured themselves or committed other offenses as part of a coordinated multi-state effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s narrow election victory over the Republican incumbent. 

The court filing also seeks to force Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis to recuse herself from involvement in the criminal probe that she spearheaded after the January 2021 public release of a recorded phone call in which Trump pressed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough ballots to overcome Biden’s victory. Just under 12,000 votes separated the candidates in a Georgia election with a record-breaking turnout of 7 million voters.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis at a Jan. 24 court hearing about the release of grand jury report on  the 2020 election interference. Screen shot/Fulton County Superior Court

In Monday’s motion, Trump’s attorneys accused Willis of violating professional standards and constitutional rights as the county’s lead prosecutor.

Trump’s lawyers also ask a judge not to make public more than three pages of the grand jury report that has already been released and not to identify any of the 75 witnesses or any individuals that jurors recommend should be prosecuted.

The witnesses list included Raffensperger, who refused Trump’s overtures, and Trump allies such as Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows and former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who visited Georgia. Trump’s allies called and visited state officials in Georgia after the November 2020 election in an attempt to stop the presidential election from being certified as they leveled unfounded claims of mass fraud.

At a Jan. 24 court hearing, Willis said her decision whether to pursue charges was “imminent,” and Brookings Institute Report and political experts with Defend Our Democracy have predicted that multiple people, including possibly Trump, will be indicted for charges that could include conspiracy to commit election fraud and other offenses.

In addition, the motion requests that the judge supervising the special grand jury, Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, not be involved in determining whether the criminal probe is legal or if the grand jury panel process was mishandled. 

McBurney said the panel’s recommendations for who should be charged with state crimes would remain under seal until Willis decides whether to charge those people.

Additionally, Trump’s motion asserts that jury members and the forewoman gave media interviews that demonstrate the grand jury was poorly supervised and improperly instructed.

District attorneys can request permission from a majority of superior court judges to convene a special grand jury to handle lengthy and complex investigations.

The special grand jury, unlike a regular grand jury, is not empowered to make criminal indictments, but it can make recommendations to prosecutors on whether or not laws have been violated.

Trump’s filings come as national media outlets reported over the last few days that the Manhattan district attorney was expected to criminally indict the ex-president for money paid to Stormy Daniels ahead of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in an effort to stop the porn actress from speaking out about an alleged affair she had with Trump. 


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Stanley Dunlap
Stanley Dunlap

Stanley Dunlap has covered government and politics for news outlets in Georgia and Tennessee for the past decade. The Georgia Associated Press Managing Editors named Stanley a finalist for best deadline reporting. The Tennessee Press Association honored him for his reporting on the disappearance of Holly Bobo.