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Mar 20, 2023
Trump Seeks Atlanta Grand Jury Dismissal, DA’s Removal From Case
(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump moved to dismiss findings of a special purpose grand jury in Atlanta that recommended indictments for those who sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, and he demanded the ouster of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from the case.
The former president argued Monday in court papers that the grand jury’s report should be quashed because the investigation violated his constitutional rights and that any evidence presented to it shouldn’t be used if prosecutors seek indictments from a new grand jury.
In a 483-page filing, Trump argued that Willis has too many conflicts of interests. He also claims Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who oversaw the special purpose grand jury, made errors that tainted the proceedings and “violated notions of fundamental fairness and due process.” Trump seeks a hearing by a judge other than McBurney on the matter.
Trump’s lawyers cited a series of interviews that special purpose grand jurors gave after their eight-month investigation ended, as well as public statements that Willis and McBurney made about the case.
“The whole world has watched” this investigation unfold, “and what they have witnessed was a process that was confusing, flawed and, at-times, blatantly unconstitutional,” Trump’s lawyer wrote. It “should have been handled correctly, fairly and with deference to the law and the highest ethical standards.”
A spokesman for Willis declined to comment. McBurney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The filing comes as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg winds up a grand jury investigation into a hush-money payment Trump allegedly made to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public before the 2016 election about a claimed sexual encounter. Charges in the case are widely expected.
In their filing on Monday, Trump’s lawyers said Willis’s office “violated prosecutorial standards and acted with disregard for the gravity of the circumstances and the constitutional rights of those involved.”
In a series of interviews with news organizations including the Associated Press, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, NBC and the New York Times, the special grand jury foreperson, Emily Kohrs, said that the panel’s still-secret recommendations include indicting more than a dozen people, even hinting strongly that one of the targets would be Trump.
‘Not Rocket Science’
“You are not going to be shocked,” Kohrs told the Times, when asked whether the Fulton County panel had recommended charging the former president. “It’s not rocket science.”
In her interviews, Kohrs said the grand jury heard about 75 witnesses over eight months. She said that when witnesses invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, prosecutors would then play videos of speeches, TV interviews or testimony they gave elsewhere.
In his filing Monday, Trump argued Kohrs showed her “lack of respect” for the Fifth Amendment by prosecutors when she told an interviewer: “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.”
Trump’s lawyers wrote: “The fact that the juror had to question whether the prosecutor was acting cruelly speaks for itself.”
--With assistance from Zoe Tillman.
(Updates with details from the filing.)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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