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Trump lawyers ask judge to quash Georgia special grand jury report

The former president's legal team argues that public comments made by some of the jurors and the district attorney show a tainted investigation.

ATLANTA (CN) — Attorneys representing former President Donald Trump filed a motion Monday to quash a special grand jury report and preclude prosecutors from using its recommendations for indictments of those believed to have illegally interfered with Georgia's 2020 presidential election.

The motion argues that the state's laws surrounding the use and functions of a special grand jury are "unclear and sometimes contradictory." It further seeks to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her office from the case due to their "extrajudicial statements which violate prosecutorial standards and constitute forensic misconduct."

Filed by prominent Atlanta-based lawyers Jennifer Little and Drew Findling, the motion calls Willis a "biased prosecutor" who regularly expresses her personal opinions about the criminality of the acts under investigation in public statements, which "heightened the public condemnation of the witnesses."

The attorneys claim that the DA's office and Fulton County Judge Robert McBurney "failed to protect the most basic procedural and substantive constitutional rights of all individuals discussed by this investigative body," after the grand jury's foreperson spoke to several media organizations following the partial release of their final report last month.

Emily Kohrs' public comments shed some insight on the eight-month process and revealed that the jury's recommendations for indictments is "not a short list." In response to criticism of Kohrs' commentary, five of the 23 special grand jurors spoke anonymously with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week about their personal experiences.

"It's gonna be massive," one of them said about the release of the full final report.

McBurney reportedly told the jurors that they were allowed to publicly discuss witnesses and what prosecutors said, but not the substance of their deliberations. The judge released the introduction and conclusion of the final report in February, as well as a part stating that a majority of the jurors believe that some witnesses may have lied under oath. He said that the full findings should not be released until after prosecutors complete their investigation in order to protect the due process rights of any potential defendants.

"It is difficult to take a scalpel to the work of grand juries and parse out what does or does not constitute deliberations, but the foreperson seemingly breached that obligation in her public appearances," the motion states.

The motion also requests for a hearing on the matter and for it be heard by Chief Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville or another superior court judge other than McBurney. 

Trump was never subpoenaed to testify before the special grand jury, although the investigation largely stemmed from the notorious phone call he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger following the 2020 election, urging him to "find" 11,789 votes needed to overturn his loss to Joe Biden in the Peach State.

Kohrs told the Associated Press that the grand jury wanted to hear from the former president but didn’t have any real expectation that he would provide meaningful testimony.

“Trump was not a battle we picked to fight,” she told the outlet.

According to court documents and attorney statements, at least 18 people have been notified they are targets of the investigation, including Rudy Giuliani, who was Trump's attorney at the time, for allegedly purporting evidence of election fraud to Georgia legislators in December 2020, as well as David Shafer, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, and the 11 fake GOP electors that falsely certified that Trump had won the vote in several states that he had actually lost.

Trump's attorneys accuse the proceedings of violating the rights of these individuals by "arbitrarily assigning 'target' status while not providing adequate protections." They also argue that the jurors were not properly instructed on witnesses constitutional rights to invoke the Fifth Amendment, causing them to "draw negative inferences" when it was asserted.

According to statements from two of the special grand jurors, at least 10 of the 75 witnesses who testified invoked their Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions. Kohrs said in one interview that some of the more high-profile witnesses such as Trump's former adviser Michael Flynn, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Giuliani refused to many of the prosecutors’ questions.

When witnesses declined to answer questions, the prosecutors would engage in what Kohrs described as “show and tell," playing video of speeches, TV interviews or testimony the witness had given elsewhere including before the U.S. House committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

“I don’t know if it was like cruelty, but they’re like, if you’re going to take the Fifth, we’re going to watch you,” one of the jurors told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Another juror told the outlet that the panel was repeatedly told by prosecutors that they should not perceive someone invoking his or her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination as an admission of guilt.

“They were very passionate about saying: ‘I need you to understand that,” she said.

The former president's legal counsel argue that the grand jurors’ comments reveal that they "relied upon improper outside sources" in what they called a "tainted investigation."

"Throughout the foreperson’s media tour, and the subsequent statements of additional grand jurors, it became apparent that this grand jury was improperly supervised or, worse, improperly instructed from the outset," the motion states.

Categories:Criminal, Government, Politics

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