A judge in Fulton County, Georgia, will make public some parts of a report from a special grand jury that investigated Donald Trump’s actions after the 2020 election in the state, but not specific charging recommendations.
In his order on Monday, Judge Robert C.I. McBurney said that the special grand jury’s introduction and conclusion as well as concerns the panel had about witnesses lying under oath will made be public on Thursday. Some of the information in those sections still may be redacted, the judge noted.
Prosecutors in Georgia have aggressively investigated whether Trump or any of his associates broke the law while trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat in the closely contested state.
The special grand jury, barred from issuing indictments, penned the highly anticipated final report as a culmination of its seven months of work, which included interviewing 75 witnesses from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.
No one has been charged in the case yet, and another grand jury would make those decisions now that the special grand jury has presented its findings.
Other findings by the special grand jury won’t be public yet – particularly the parts where the report makes recommendations about potential charges. That’s because some of the people named in those recommendations may not have appeared in grand jury proceedings so far.
“Here, however, for anyone named in the special purpose grand jury’s final report who was not afforded the opportunity to appear before the grand jury, none of those due process rights has been satisfied,” McBurney wrote in the eight-page order on Monday.
“And for those who did appear – willingly or not – only the right to be heard (although without counsel or rebuttal) was protected,” McBurney added.
A media coalition, which includes CNN, is seeking for the full report to be made public.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis suggested last month that the special grand jury has recommended multiple indictments and said her decision on whether to bring charges is “imminent.”
At a January court hearing in Atlanta on whether to publicly release the special grand jury report, Willis, a Democrat, said she opposes making it public at the moment, citing her ongoing deliberations of the charges.
“We want to make sure that everyone is treated fairly, and we think for future defendants to be treated fairly it’s not appropriate at this time to have this report released,” Willis said last month.
On Monday, Willis praised McBurney’s order.
“I believe Judge McBurney’s order is legally sound and consistent with my request. I have no plans to appeal today’s order,” the DA said in a statement.
Willis’ sweeping investigation has sought to determine not only whether Trump committed crimes but also whether there was a broader criminal conspiracy playing out in the efforts to overturn Georgia’s election results. In document preservation requests to Georgia officials in February 2021, Willis said she was investigating potential crimes including solicitation of election fraud, making false statements to government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and violence or threats related to election administration.
The Georgia probe was set off by an hour-long January 2021 phone call from Trump to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to “find” the votes necessary for Trump to win the Peach State.
Over time, the investigation expanded well beyond the Trump phone call to include false claims of election fraud to state lawmakers, the fake elector scheme, efforts by unauthorized individuals to access voting machines in one Georgia county and threats and harassment against election workers. Willis also investigated the sudden departure of Byung “BJay” Pak, the US attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.
Along the way, Willis designated a number of people as targets of her probe, including 16 Georgia Republicans who served as pro-Trump electors in 2020 and Giuliani, who was working as a lawyer for Trump.
While a special grand jury does not issue indictments, it possesses broader investigative powers than a typical grand jury in the state as well as the power to issue subpoenas for witness testimony, phone, email and other records. But how much of that makes it into the final report was up to the special grand jurors. If the special grand jury recommends any indictments, Willis could then seek them from the other grand juries regularly empaneled in Fulton County.
Willis has previously said she could pursue Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) charges in this case, which would allow prosecutors to bring charges against multiple defendants and make the case that Trump and his allies were part of a criminal enterprise, and brought in John Floyd, a lawyer with deep expertise in racketeering cases, to assist her office.
This story has been updated with additional details.