The judge will release portions of the Georgia Grand Jury Special Report – KGET 17

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia judge on Monday ordered the partial release later this week of a special grand jury report on efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

The report’s introduction and conclusion, as well as a section in which grand jurors expressed concern that some witnesses may have lied under oath, will be released Thursday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said.

Any recommendations about who should or should not be prosecuted will remain secret for now to protect their due process rights, McBurney wrote.

McBurney’s order came three weeks after they heard arguments from prosecutors, who asked that the report remain secret until they decide on charges, and a coalition of media organizations, which sought its release.

The acquittal is a significant development in one of several cases that threaten legal jeopardy for the former president as he ramps up his 2024 White House campaign. A special grand jury spent about seven months hearing testimony from witnesses, including high-profile Trump allies such as attorney Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and top Georgia officials such as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp.

McBurney wrote that the report includes recommendations for Fulton County District Attorney Fanny Willis, including “a list of who should (or should not) be charged and for what, in connection with the conduct of (and after) the 2020 Georgia general election.” The special grand jury had no indictment power, and it will ultimately be up to Willis to decide whether to seek indictments from a regular grand jury.

The special grand jury’s final report was requested by Willis and should inform her investigative decision-making process, McBurney wrote, adding that the panel’s investigation was largely controlled by the district attorney and her team and was a “one-sided investigation.”

There was “very limited due process” for people for whom grand jurors recommended charges, McBurney wrote. Some may not have had the opportunity to appear before the panel, and those who did not have the right to have their lawyers present or to give any rebuttal.

For this reason, the judge concluded, it is not appropriate to release the full report at this time.

It is unclear if and when Willis will present the case to a regular grand jury with the goal of indicting one or more. At a hearing on January 24, she said decisions were “immediate” but did not elaborate.

Trump told The Associated Press last month that he had done “absolutely nothing wrong.” He said he felt “very confident” he would not be charged.

At a hearing in January, Willis objected to the immediate release of the report, saying it could violate the rights of potential defendants and adversely affect the ability to prosecute those who may be charged with crimes.

“We want to make sure everyone is treated fairly and we think future defendants will be treated fairly, it’s not appropriate to release this report at this time,” Willis said during the hearing.

A group of news organizations, including the AP, pushed for the immediate release of the full report, saying public interest in the report was “tremendous.”

“The prosecution’s discomfort with the disclosure of court records is not enough to make them sealed,” said attorney Tom Clyde, a media representative. “It has to be significant, identifiable evidence that will cause the problem.”

Willis said in an emailed statement Monday that she believes McBurney’s order is “legally sound and consistent with my request” and that she does not plan to appeal. Clyde declined to comment.

Willis and her team began their investigation two years ago, shortly after the release of a January 2, 2021, recording of a phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. In that conversation, the then-president suggested that Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, could “find” the votes needed to overturn Trump’s narrow election loss in the state to Biden, a Democrat.

“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said during the call.

Since then, the scope of the investigation has expanded considerably. The special grand jury worked behind closed doors, as required by law, but public court filings and hearings related to its work provided a window into some of the topics Willis investigated. These included:

— Phone calls from Trump and others to Georgia officials after the 2020 election.

— A group of 16 Georgia Republicans who signed an affidavit in December 2020 falsely stating that Trump had won the state and that they were “duly elected and qualified” voters in the state.

— False allegations of election fraud made during meetings of lawmakers at the Georgia Capitol in December 2020.

— The copying of data and software from election equipment in rural Coffee County by a computer forensics team hired by Trump allies.

— Alleged attempts to pressure Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman into falsely admitting to election fraud.

— The sudden resignation of the US Attorney in Atlanta in January 2021.

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