ATLANTA — Former President Donald Trump’s Georgia attorneys have filed a lengthy motion demanding both the judge and district attorney overseeing the special purpose grand jury be disqualified and that the grand report be tossed out.
The motion, which is 483 pages long, said the former president doesn’t think a special purpose grand jury, the district attorney, or the judge overseeing it were fair.
But one legal expert who examined the motion told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that he doesn’t think much of it.
“My initial impression is that this is really a press release dressed up as a legal filing,” said Clark Cunningham, a law professor at Georgia State University.
Cunningham said he doesn’t think the legal arguments inside the lengthy motion carry any weight.
“In some ways, I don’t think we need to take it very seriously at this point,” Cunningham said.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney convened the special purpose grand jury at the request of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to investigate possible criminal interference in the 2020 Georgia election.
[TIMELINE: Fulton County grand jury investigation into potential interference in Georgia elections]
Over the past year, we’ve seen a parade of witnesses come to testify, from Rudy Giuliani to Michael Flynn to Brad Raffensperger.
The grand jury finished its report in January and, though we can’t see the whole report yet, it appears to call for multiple indictments.
But before any of that has happened, Trump’s attorneys are attacking the very notion of a special grand jury and want anything produced by it tossed out.
They want the judge and DA kicked off the case.
“The Fulton County DA’s Office must be recused, disqualified, and prevented from any further investigation or prosecution of this matter,” the motion said.
This, says Cunningham, even though nothing has happened yet. He believes the motion has little merit because Trump isn’t a defendant and, so far, isn’t facing any charges.
- Fulton grand jury looking into whether Trump interfered with 2020 election completes investigation
- Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn appears before special grand jury into 2020 election
- Special grand jury wants to hear more about pressure campaign to overturn 2020 election
- Key witnesses continue to fight subpoenas by special grand jury investigating election interference
- New court filing confirms 11 GOP false electors potential targets in election tampering probe
- Judge rules Georgia lawmakers to testify in 2020 elections investigation, limits testimony
- WSB-TV, media groups urge judge to make special grand jury report public
“These are the arguments that a criminal defendant makes after they’re indicted. And that hasn’t happened yet and perhaps it never will,” Cunningham said.
Up to this point, only a small section of the final report has been released.
“We find by a unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 election that could result in overturning that election,” the report said.
Last month, McBurney only allowed select portions of the grand jury report to be released, including a section about potential perjury.
According to the released parts of the report, a majority of the jurors believed perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses and recommended Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis seek appropriate indictments.
“We don’t know exactly who they are pointing the finger at for perjury. But I think it’s almost a public signal of don’t believe everything that anybody who was a witness in this may have said to the press,” criminal defense attorney Jessica Cino said.
According to the final report, we know 26 Fulton County residents heard evidence from 75 witnesses and we know the grand jury made recommendations on indictments, but what those recommendations were in the part of the report remains sealed.
“Ultimately, District Attorney Willis will make the decision about who to charge who not to charge, what charges to seek and not to charge, and what theories she will pursue if she is going to prosecute,” said Anthony Michael Kreis, a constitutional law professor at Georgia State University.
Over the weekend, Trump claimed that his arrest is imminent and issued an extraordinary call for his supporters to protest as a New York grand jury investigates hush money payments to women who alleged sexual encounters with the former president.
Even as Trump’s lawyer and spokesperson said there had been no communication from prosecutors, Trump declared in a post on his social media platform that he expects to be taken into custody on Tuesday.
Trump’s aides and legal team have been preparing for the possibility of an indictment. Should that happen, he would be arrested only if he refused to surrender. Trump’s lawyers have previously said he would follow normal procedure, meaning he would likely agree to surrender at a New York Police Department precinct or directly to Bragg’s office.
The indictment of Trump, 76, would be an extraordinary development after years of investigations into his business, political and personal dealings.
There is no word on when the full special purpose grand jury report will be released to the public, only that Willis said it will be released after her investigation is done.
Elliot attempted to contact Drew Findling, one of Trump’s attorneys, on Monday, as well as Willis, for comment on this story. There was none from either side.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
©2023 Cox Media Group