Trump moves to suppress report from Fulton County special grand jury
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Washington — Lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Monday asked a Georgia court to suppress the report of a special purpose grand jury that investigated alleged efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election.
In a nearly 500-page filing submitted to a state court in Fulton County, Ga., Trump’s attorneys criticized the process of the special purpose grand jury, calling it “confusing, flawed, and at-times, blatantly unconstitutional.”
In addition to asking the court to quash the grand jury’s December report, expunge it from the record, and prevent any prosecuting body from using evidence derived from the grand jury, Trump’s lawyers also want Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis‘ office to be recused from any further investigation or prosecution of the matter involving Trump.
“Given the scrutiny and the gravity of the investigation and those individuals involved – namely, the movant President Donald J. Trump, this process should have been handled correctly, fairly, and with deference to the law and the highest ethical standards,” lawyers Jennifer Little and Drew Findling wrote.
Trump’s attorneys claimed the special purpose grand jury involved a “constant lack of clarity as to the law, inconsistent applications of basic constitutional protections for individuals brought before it, and a prosecutor’s office that was found to have an actual conflict yet continued to pursue the investigation.”
The grand jury was empaneled in early May 2022 following a request by Willis and served as an investigatory body that could recommend charges, but not issue indictments. Consisting of 26 Fulton County residents, three of whom were alternates, the grand jury was created to investigate circumstances related to possible attempts to disrupt the administration of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
Over the course of its roughly six-month probe, the grand jury heard testimony from 75 witnesses, including top Georgia officials and several people close to Trump.
Portions of the grand jury’s report were released last month after a judge ordered Willis’s office to make public three sections — the introduction, conclusion and a section stating that a majority of the grand jury “believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it.”
The report, submitted in December, further stated that the grand jury found “by a unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election.”
The remaining sealed sections could include recommendations for indictments, but they will not be released until after Willis’ office decides whether to pursue charges. Willis has not yet decided how to proceed, but has said a decision is “imminent.” The special purpose grand jury was dissolved in January.
In their filing in the Fulton County superior court, Trump’s lawyers argued the statutes governing the special purpose grand jury are “unconstitutionally vague,” and the judge supervising the panel applied the statutes “in a way that violated the due process rights” of the people involved when he held the special purpose grand jury was a criminal grand jury.
Little and Findling also criticized comments made by the grand jury’s forewoman, Emily Kohrs, in interviews to numerous media outlets, which they claim “violate notions of fundamental fairness and due process and taint any future grand jury pool.” Five other jurors spoke with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about their time on the special purpose grand jury.
“Accordingly, President Donald J. Trump hereby moves to quash the SPGJ’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 right of those involved,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
Willis could not question a Republican lawmaker, state Sen. Burt Jones, after the judge found she had a conflict of interest because she hosted a fundraiser for Jones’ Democratic opponent in the race for Georgia lieutenant governor.
Little and Findling requested a hearing to press their arguments. Willis’ office declined to comment on the filing.
The investigation by the Fulton County district attorney is one of several Trump is facing, and his filing comes days after the former president claimed he expects to be arrested Tuesday as part of a probe by the Manhattan district attorney involving payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election and the alleged falsification of related business records to hide campaign finance violations.
A special counsel at the Justice Department is also examining Trump’s handling of government records discovered at his South Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago and efforts to stop the transfer of presidential power after the 2020 presidential election.