Georgia DA’s Decision on Charging Trump “Imminent”

January 24, 2023

Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis on Tuesday urged a judge to keep a grand jury’s investigation into the state’s 2020 election sealed for now, adding that decisions on whether to bring criminal charges against former President Trump or other defendants were “imminent.” 

Willis warned Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney that future defendants might argue that releasing the document, which includes details into former President Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat, could publicly hurt their rights, including their right to a fair trial.

“We are asking that the report not be released, because—you having seen that report—decisions are imminent,” Willis said.

Judge McBurney said, “There will be no rash decisions,” citing the extraordinary nature of the investigation.

McBurney heard arguments Tuesday from Willis, members of the media and others about whether to make the grand jury investigation public. President Trump’s Georgia attorneys reportedly declined to appear. 

The investigation was reported to have focused on several areas: phone calls made to Georgia officials by Trump and his allies; false statements made by Trump associates before Georgia legislative committees; a panel of 16 Republicans who signed a certificate falsely stating that Trump had won the state and that they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors; the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta in January 2021; alleged attempts to pressure a Fulton County election worker; and breaches of election equipment in a rural south Georgia county. 

It was initially sparked by the phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2, 2021, during which the then-President pressured his fellow Republican, who recorded the call, saying, “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.” 

Grand jurors heard testimony from some 75 witnesses, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Raffensperger, along with Trump advisers such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and attorney Rudy Giuliani. 

A coalition of a dozen news outlets argued Tuesday that there was no legal basis for keeping the grand jury’s report from the public. 

“We believe the report should be released now and in its entirety. And that approach is consistent with the way the American judicial system operates,” attorney Tom Clyde, representing the coalition, argued. “In other words, it is not unusual for a district attorney or a prosecuting authority to be generally uncomfortable with having to release information during the progress of the case. That occurs all the time.”

At the close of the nearly two-hour hearing McBurney stated, “I think the fact that we had to discuss this for 90 minutes shows that it is somewhat extraordinary.”

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