Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Donald Trump's lawyers on Monday asked a Georgia court to quash a special grand jury report detailing its investigation into the former US president's efforts to overturn his 2020 statewide election defeat.
The filing in Fulton County Superior Court also seeks to have the county district attorney, Fani Willis, recused from the case, arguing that her media appearances and social media posts demonstrated her bias against Trump.
The move comes as the former president's legal problems intensify on multiple fronts. In New York, prosecutors appear on the verge of charging Trump in connection with hush money payments made to a pornographic film star who claimed she and Trump had an affair.
Trump also faces separate US Justice Department probes into his retention of classified documents after leaving the White House as well as his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The Georgia motion seeks to bar prosecutors from using any evidence or testimony derived from the grand jury's investigation.
Willis, an elected Democrat, told a judge two months ago that the decision on criminal charges was "imminent," shortly after the panel completed its final report, which has largely remained under seal.
The report includes the jurors' recommendations to prosecutors on possible indictments for election interference, though the details remain secret.
If charged in New York or Georgia, Trump would become the first former US president to face criminal prosecution.
Trump is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and has accused both Willis and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, also a Democrat, of targeting him for partisan reasons.
The Georgia probe began shortly after a January 2021 phone call in which Trump urged the state's top election official, Brad Raffensperger, to "find" enough votes to reverse Joe Biden's victory, asserting falsely that the results were tainted by widespread fraud. Days later, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, trying to prevent the certification of Biden's national victory.
At Willis's request, a special grand jury was convened last year to aid in her investigation. While the grand jury did not have the authority to produce indictments, it could issue subpoenas and heard testimony from 75 witnesses, including top Trump allies such as US Senator Lindsey Graham and lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Trump did not appear as a witness.
In Monday's motion, Trump's lawyers mounted several arguments, including asserting that the statute permitting such special purpose grand juries is unconstitutional and that a grand juror who spoke with media outlets violated the law.
"The whole world has watched the process of the SPGJ unfold and what they have witnessed was a process that was confusing, flawed and, at times, blatantly unconstitutional," they wrote, using an acronym for the jury.
Willis's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The investigation has also examined a scheme involving a slate of fake "electors" that falsely asserted Trump had won Georgia in an effort to award the state's electoral votes to him, rather than Biden.