Fulton County District Attorney Fanny Willis said Tuesday that a special grand jury investigating efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to subvert Georgia’s 2020 election has recommended multiple indictments and said whether she would bring charges The decision is “imminent”.
An Atlanta court is holding hearings on whether to release the special grand jury report publicly. Willis opposed the release, citing her ongoing deliberations on the charges.
“A decision is imminent,” Willis said.
The special grand jury, which was barred from releasing indictments, wrote its highly anticipated final report as the culmination of seven months of work that included interviews with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffinsperger to former Trump attorney Rudy Trump. Witnesses for Giuliani.
Its final report is likely to include some summaries of the panel’s investigative work, as well as any recommendations for prosecution and alleged conduct leading to the panel’s conclusions.
Atlanta-area prosecutors are already poring over the report as they weigh whether to bring charges against Trump or his associates.
The hearing for Judge Robert McBurney began around noon on Tuesday. McBurney, who oversees the special grand jury investigation for about seven months, will decide whether the report should be released publicly, and if so, by how much. While the grand jury has recommended that its report be made public, so far its contents have been closely guarded.
gentlemen.U.S. Attorney Explains What’s Next in Fulton Co. Investigation
A media coalition, including CNN, is seeking to make the full report public.
Trump’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearing.
Trump attorneys Drew Findling, Marissa Goldberg and Jennifer Little said in a statement: “The grand jury coerced dozens of other officials, often senior Testified, but never considered it important to speak to the President.” “So we can assume the grand jury performed their duty, as we did, examining the facts and the law and concluding that President Trump did not break the law.”
For McBurney, there are only a few exceptional grand jury examples to guide his decisions about the disposition of the report.
“Like everybody else, I’m sitting there eating popcorn and waiting to see what he’ll release and what he won’t release,” said Robert James, who used the special grand jury when he was the district attorney in DeKalb, Georgia. The delegation investigates local corruption in counties.
“Frankly, even if you look at the case law on special grand juries, you’ll find that it’s rare,” said Peter Skandalakis, executive director of the Georgia Board of Attorneys. “That’s why, you know, I think Judge McBurney was very cautious, very deliberate in his approach to whether to release the report.”
Judges will have to weigh public interest in learning about efforts to interfere in the last presidential election against concerns that, if the district attorney is prosecuting, releasing the information could stymie ongoing investigations and that release could disparage individuals who have not been made public. charged with a crime.
“What you don’t want is a grand jury to have the opportunity to come up with some charges of criminal conduct that later either cannot be proven or are unfounded, and the person hasn’t had the opportunity to clear himself up,” Scandarakis said.
The Georgia investigation began shortly after Trump called Ravensberg in January 2021, urging the secretary of state to “find” the votes Trump needed to win the state. He lost to Joe Biden by nearly 12,000 votes.
“Our vote matters as much as anyone else’s,” Willis told CNN in a 2022 interview. “If someone takes it or violates it in a criminal way, because I sit in this jurisdiction, that’s my responsibility.”
Willis is calling for a special grand jury to investigate the case, which began work in June 2022, subpoenaing a panel that includes Raffensperger, Juilani, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and South Carolina Governor Brian Kemp. The witness list includes Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Over time, the investigation has expanded far beyond Trump’s call to include false allegations of election fraud to state lawmakers, sham election planning, attempts by unauthorized individuals to gain access to voting machines in a Georgia county , and threats and harassment of election workers.
Along the way, Willis named a number of people to target in her investigation, including 16 Republicans who served as Trump-supporting electors in 2020, as well as Giuliani.
But how much of that makes it into the final report depends on the special grand juror.
“It’s important for people to know that the prosecutor’s office traditionally doesn’t write statements,” James said. “It’s really the will of the people.”
Now that Willis had a special grand jury report, it was up to her to decide whether to go to a regular grand jury for indictment. She doesn’t have to follow exactly the specific recommendations made by the special grand jury, but the products of its work will likely end up being made public, and she could risk a backlash if she strays too far from the panel’s recommendations.
Willis has previously said she could pursue charges from the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) in the case, which would allow prosecutors to bring charges against multiple defendants and prove that Trump and his allies are criminal enterprises a part of.
Whatever method she takes, she could be under pressure to prosecute quickly or end the investigation.
The pressure is “all-encompassing,” James said, predicting Willis will mobilize her resources and get her case ready for trial before she seeks any prosecution.
“The spotlight is hot,” James said. “You can’t afford to lose a case like this, can you?”
Previous special grand jury reports have recounted the panel’s investigation and concluded with recommendations.
The 2013 special grand jury that worked with James released a roughly 80-page report, but it was only released publicly after a months-long court battle.
The DeKalb County panel’s summary of the investigation draws on testimony and documents provided to the grand jury. A list of all witnesses who appeared at the trial is attached at the end of the report. The grand jury ultimately referred one person to indictment — who objected to the report’s public release — and nearly a dozen others for further investigation, listing the violations in each case that led them to their conclusions. They also suggested various government reforms.
A 2010 report by a special grand jury in Gwinnett County summarized its investigative activities surrounding local land acquisition transactions and indicted a public official, although when the court later ruled that the special grand jury could not issue an indictment, The indictment was overturned.
This story has been updated with more details.