Georgia grand jury report into Donald Trump remains sealed – for now

Judge Robert McBurney
If Judge Robert McBurney decides to disseminate the report, as the special grand jury urged, he must also determine whether any parts of it should be redacted.

A Georgia judge has said that a grand jury report on former President Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss will remained sealed – for now.

The report contains the findings of an eight-month criminal probe into Donald Trump’s pressure campaign to challenge his narrow defeat in the US state.

The grand jury, dissolved two weeks ago, did not have indictment powers but may have recommended charges.

No former president has been indicted in US history.

After hours of court arguments on Tuesday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said that he wouldn’t make any “rash decisions” and would take more time to reflect on the arguments from both sides.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who received the body’s findings two weeks ago, argued in court against releasing the report, saying that “it is not the appropriate time”.

A prosecutor working on behalf of Fulton County added that the district attorney’s office believes the report should only be released after prosecutors determine whether or not to bring charges in the case.

“This is not an opposition meant to march to the end of time,” prosecutor Donald Wakeford said.

Judge McBurney said he expects that any ruling on the release of the report would be appealed.

Ms Willis convened the 26-member grand jury in January 2022 to investigate the attempts to reverse Mr Trump’s 11,779-vote loss to President Joe Biden, as well as the efforts to send an “alternate” slate of Republican presidential electors from the state.

Among the potential crimes it looked into were the solicitation of election fraud, making false statements to government officials, and racketeering.

That includes an infamous phone call in January 2021 between Mr Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the then-president said he wanted “to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have”.

Mr Trump has described the investigation as a “strictly political witch hunt” and has repeatedly characterised the call as “perfect”.

Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, Mr Trump on his Truth Social platform accused his Democratic opponents of having cheated to win and, referring to the call with Mr Raffensperger, said that “many people, including lawyers for both sides, were knowingly on the line”.

He also repeated the false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

In court, lawyers representing a consortium of US media outlets called for the release of the report, citing “extraordinary” public interest in what took place.

Attorney Thomas Clyde, who represents the media outlets, said that a failure to disclose the document could shake “public faith” in the court system. He added that “people’s reputations getting hurt is not enough” to seal the report.

Attorneys for Mr Trump said they would not participate in Tuesday’s hearing.

“To date, we have never been a part of this process. The grand jury compelled the testimony of dozens of other, often high-ranking, officials during the investigation, but never found it important to speak with the President,” they wrote in an emailed statement to CBS News, the BBC’s US partner.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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