Times Standard (Eureka)
Inside the Trump grand jury that probed election meddling
ATLANTA >> They were led down a staircase into a garage beneath a downtown Atlanta courthouse, where officers with big guns were waiting. From there, they were ushered into vans with heavily tinted windows and driven to their cars under police escort.
For Emily Kohrs, these were the moments last May when she realized she wasn’t participating in just any grand jury.
“That was the first indication that this was a big freaking deal,” Kohrs told The Associated Press.
The 30-year-old Fulton County resident who was between jobs suddenly found herself at the center of one of the nation’s most significant legal proceedings. She would become foreperson of the special grand jury selected to investigate whether then-President Donald Trump and his Republican associates illegally meddled in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. The case has emerged as one of Trump’s most glaring legal vulnerabilities as he mounts a third presidential campaign, in part because he was recorded asking state election officials to “find 11,780 votes” for him.
For the next eight months, Kohrs and her fellow jurors would hear testimony from 75 witnesses, ranging from some of Trump’s most prominent allies to local election workers. Portions of the panel’s final report released last Thursday said jurors believed that “one or more witnesses” committed perjury and urged local prosecutors to bring charges. The report’s recommendations for charges on other issues, including potential attempts to influence the election, remain secret for now.
The AP identified Kohrs after her name was included on subpoenas obtained through open records requests. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney advised Kohrs and other jurors on what they could and could not share publicly, including in interviews with the news media.
During a lengthy recent interview, Kohrs complied with the judge’s instructions not to discuss details related to the jury’s deliberations. She also declined to talk about unpublished portions of the panel’s final report.
But her general characterizations provided unusual insight into a process that is typically cloaked in secrecy.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who was on the receiving end of Trump’s pressure campaign, was “a really geeky kind of funny,” she said. State House Speaker David Ralston, who died in November, was hilarious and had the room in stitches. And Gov. Brian Kemp, who succeeded in delaying his appearance until after his reelection in November, seemed unhappy to be there.
Kohrs was fascinated by an explainer on Georgia’s voting machines offered by a former Dominion Voting Systems executive. She also enjoyed learning about the inner workings of the White House from Cassidy Hutchinson, who Kohrs said was much more forthcoming than her old boss, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Kohrs sketched witnesses in her notebook as they spoke and was tickled when Bobby Christine, the former U.S. attorney for Georgia’s Southern District, complimented her “remarkable talent.” When the jurors’ notes were taken for shredding after their work was done, she managed to salvage two sketches — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Marc Short, who served as chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence — because there were no notes on those pages.
After Graham tried so hard to avoid testifying — taking his fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — Kohrs was surprised when he politely answered questions and even joked with jurors.
Former New York mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was funny and invoked privilege to avoid answering many questions but “genuinely seemed to consider” whether it was merited before declining to answer, she said.