Albany Times Union

Trump’s Georgia lawyers seek to quash special report

- By Richard Fausset This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

ATLANTA — As former President Donald Trump awaits a possible indictment in New York, his lawyers pushed back on Monday at another criminal investigat­ion in Georgia, filing a motion to quash the final report of a special grand jury that considered whether Trump and some of his allies interfered in the 2020 election results in the state.

The motion, filed in Atlanta, also seeks to suppress any evidence or testimony derived from the special grand jury’s investigat­ion, and it asks that the office of Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, be disqualifi­ed.

The motion described the grand jury proceeding­s as “confusing, flawed and, at times, blatantly unconstitu­tional.”

Over the weekend, Trump said in a social media post that he would be arrested Tuesday as part of an investigat­ion by the Manhattan district attorney into a hush money payment he made to a porn star, and called on his supporters to protest. A special counsel for the Justice Department is also investigat­ing Trump’s handling of classified documents that he kept at his home in Florida, as well as his efforts to overturn the national election results and his conduct related to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

In Georgia, Trump is seen as having two main areas of legal jeopardy: the calls he made in the weeks after the 2020 election to pressure state officials to overturn the results there, and his direct involvemen­t in efforts to assemble an alternate slate of electors, even after three vote counts affirmed President Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Experts have said that Willis appears to be building a case that could target multiple defendants with charges of conspiracy to commit election fraud, or charges related to racketeeri­ng.

The motion Monday was filed by Drew Findling, Jennifer Little and Marissa Goldberg, lawyers for Trump in the Georgia matter.

Among other things, the motion says that Willis had made numerous public statements that showed bias; that the judge presiding over the case, Robert C.I. Mcburney of Fulton County Superior Court, had made prejudicia­l statements; and that the Georgia laws governing special grand juries are so vague as to be unconstitu­tional.

“The results of the investigat­ion cannot be relied upon and, therefore, must be suppressed given the constituti­onal violations,” the motion says.

A spokespers­on for the district attorney’s office declined to comment Monday. But legal scholars who have been following the case closely expressed doubts that the motion would meet with much success. Clark D. Cunningham, a professor of law and ethics at Georgia State University, said the filing appeared to be premature.

Trump needs to wait to make the arguments asserted in his court filing until “when (and if ) he is actually indicted,” Cunningham said, noting that even then, it may be difficult to derail the process.

The 23 members of the Fulton County special grand jury were sworn in in May and heard testimony from 75 witnesses.

They did not have the power to issue indictment­s. Rather, they produced a report containing recommenda­tions for Willis’ office on whether to indict, and whom. Portions of the report were released in February, but key sections remain sealed, including those detailing which people the jury believes should be indicted, and for what crimes.

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