rainn.png
Thursday February 2nd, 2023 7:46PM

Judge to hold hearing over Georgia special grand jury report

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ATLANTA (AP) — A judge is set to hear arguments Tuesday on whether to release a report by a special grand jury tasked with investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies broke any laws as they sought to overturn his narrow 2020 election loss in Georgia.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney will hear arguments from the district attorney’s office, news outlets and potentially other parties before making a decision on the release of the report. The special grand jury, whose work was overseen by McBurney, recommended that the report be made public.

The report is expected to include recommendations for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on possible criminal prosecution, though it’s unclear just how specific those recommendations will be. The special grand jury did not have the power to issue indictments, and it will ultimately be up to Willis to decide whether to seek indictments from a regular grand jury.

If McBurney decides to disseminate the report, he must also determine whether any parts of it should be redacted and whether the report should be made public now or later. It’s unclear how quickly he will rule.

The investigation is one of several that threaten potential legal consequences for the Republican former president as he seeks reelection in 2024. Over a period of roughly seven months, the special grand jury heard from dozens of witnesses, including high-profile Trump allies, such as attorney Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and high-ranking Georgia officials, such as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp.

Willis began investigating shortly after a recording of a January 2021 phone call between Trump and Raffensperger became public. In that call, the president suggested that the state’s top elections official, a fellow Republican, could “find” the votes needed to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump had said. “Because we won the state.”

A coalition of news organizations, including The Associated Press, argued in favor of the report's release in full, saying in a filing Monday that the document “is a court record subject to a presumption of openness” under state court rules and the state and federal constitutions. The media group said that the public interest in the report is “extraordinary” and that there “are no countervailing interests sufficient to overcome the presumption.”

Willis, a Democrat, had not filed a brief by Monday outlining whether the report should be released.

Trump's legal team in Georgia said in a statement that it does not plan to be present or to participate in the hearing.

“To date, we have never been a part of this process,” Drew Findling, Marissa Goldberg and Jennifer Little wrote, noting that the former president was never subpoenaed or asked to come in voluntarily as part of the investigation.

“Therefore, 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," they wrote.

The order granting Willis' request for a special grand jury authorized the panel to “make recommendations concerning criminal prosecution as it shall see fit.”

A grand jury handbook produced by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia says courts have repeatedly held that a grand jury “cannot include, in a report or general presentment, comments that charge or accuse identifiable person(s) of misconduct.” That can only be done in a charging document, like an indictment, the handbook says.

“I don’t think you can accuse anybody specifically of committing a crime, so it’s going to have to be a general recommendation” on whether the district attorney should continue to pursue the investigation, Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council executive director Pete Skandalakis said of the report.

If the special grand jury did recommend that specific people be charged, Skandalakis said he believes that would have to be redacted before the report can be released.

While the special grand jury’s work took place in secret, as required by law, related public court filings provided a glimpse of investigative threads that were being pursued. Those included:

— Phone calls by Trump and others to Georgia officials in the wake of the 2020 election.

— A group of 16 Georgia Republicans who signed a certificate in December 2020 falsely stating that Trump had won the state and that they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors.

— False allegations of election fraud made during meetings of state legislators at the Georgia Capitol in December 2020.

— The copying of data and software from election equipment in rural Coffee County by a computer forensics team hired by Trump allies.

— Alleged attempts to pressure Fulton County elections worker Ruby Freeman into falsely confessing to election fraud.

— The abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta in January 2021.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
© Copyright 2023 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge to hold hearing over Georgia special grand jury report
A judge is set to hear arguments on whether to release a report by a special grand jury tasked with investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies broke any laws as they sought to overturn his narrow 2020 election loss in Georgia
12:10AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Debt ceiling: 2011 showdown leaves lessons for Biden, GOP
Lessons learned from the debt ceiling standoff more than a decade ago are rippling through Washington
12:09AM ( 13 minutes ago )
'Last dance': Those slain in California shooting remembered
The 11 people killed in Saturday's shooting at a dance studio in California were remembered Monday by their grieving families
11:42PM ( 40 minutes ago )
U.S. News
Natasha Lyonne stars in 'Poker Face,' a Peacock howdunit
Natasha Lyonne stars in the new anthology procedural series “Poker Face” for Peacock debuting Jan. 26
11:59PM ( 23 minutes ago )
China's Huawei looks to ports, factories to rebuild sales
As technicians in a distant control room watch on display screens, an automated crane at one of China’s busiest ports moves cargo containers from a Korean freighter to self-driving trucks in a scene tech giant Huawei sees as its future after American sanctions crushed its global smartphone brand
11:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
FAO: Rising prices, food insecurity add to ranks of hungry
A report by the United Nations shows growing numbers of people in Asia lack enough to eat as food insecurity rises with higher prices and worsening poverty
11:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
Associated Press (AP)
DeRozan scores 26 in 1,000th game, Bulls beat Hawks 111-100
DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points in his 1,000th career game, Nikola Vucevic added 14 points and 17 rebounds and the Chicago Bulls beat the Atlanta Hawks 111-100
10:30PM ( 1 hour ago )
Feds deny emergency call to slow ships, ease whale strikes
The U.S. government has denied a request from a group of environmental organizations to immediately apply proposed ship-speed restrictions in an effort to save a vanishing species of whale
2:39PM ( 9 hours ago )
Georgia football transfer Thomas arrested on felony charge
A wide receiver who recently transferred to Georgia from Mississippi State has been arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges
2:31PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Debt ceiling: 2011 showdown leaves lessons for Biden, GOP
Lessons learned from the debt ceiling standoff more than a decade ago are rippling through Washington
12:09AM ( 13 minutes ago )
'Last dance': Those slain in California shooting remembered
The 11 people killed in Saturday's shooting at a dance studio in California were remembered Monday by their grieving families
11:42PM ( 40 minutes ago )
Police: 2 students killed, man hurt in Des Moines shooting
Two teenage students were killed and a man was seriously injured in what police called a targeted shooting at an alternative educational program for at-risk youth in Des Moines
11:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
Sheriff seeking what drove 'mad man' to shoot up dance hall
Investigators searching for a motive in the worst mass shooting in Los Angeles County history say a search of the gunman’s home discovered a rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and evidence he was manufacturing gun silencers
11:06PM ( 1 hour ago )
Official: 7 killed in California community; suspect arrested
Seven people were killed in two related shootings Monday  in a coastal community south of San Francisco, and officials say a suspect has been arrested
10:57PM ( 1 hour ago )