Trump asks court to toss entire Georgia grand jury probe and disqualify district attorney

·3-min read
Georgia Election Investigation (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Georgia Election Investigation (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Attorneys for former president Donald Trump have asked a Georgia court to toss out any evidence gathered by the months-long special purpose grand jury empaneled last year to investigate his attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss, and to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from prosecuting him.

In a 50-page motion filed with the Fulton County Superior Court, Mr Trump’s legal team claims the Georgia law authorising the establishment of special purpose grand juries — which are investigative in nature but cannot issue indictments — is unconstitutional because it does not specify whether such grand juries are civil or criminal in nature.

They also argue that it was improper for the grand jury to issue subpoenas compelling witnesses outside the state of Georgia — such as his former attorney Rudy Giuliani, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, and other allies of the twice-impeached ex-president — to appear and give evidence before the panel.

Mr Trump’s lawyers also say Ms Willis should have been disqualified from investigating Mr Trump because the court previously enjoined her office from investigating Georgia Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones due to a conflict of interest.

“The FDA's Office, by and through the elected FDA, exacerbated the already existing conflict by making extrajudicial statements throughout the entirety of this investigation which violate prosecutorial standards, constitute forensic misconduct and create an untenable appearance of impropriety. For all of the reasons below, the FDA and the entirety of the FDA's Office must be disqualified from any further investigation or potential prosecution of this matter,” they said.

Additionally, the ex-president’s legal team is arguing that statements made by grand jurors in recent media interviews show the entire investigation was “tainted by improper influences” and revealed a “tainted process incapable of producing valuable evidentiary material and a District Attorney's Office who provided constitutionally flawed instructions”.

They cite the supervising judge’s failure to prohibit grand jurors from consuming news coverage during the investigation, as well as grand jurors’ statements indicating that the grand jury “reviewed footage and testimony from the Jan. 6 hearings and other pending litigation, as well as media interviews by certain witnesses”.

“Throughout the foreperson's media tour, and the subsequent statements of additional grand jurors, it became apparent that this grand jury was improperly supervised or, worse, improperly instructed from the outset. The public cannot have faith in the impartiality of this constitutionally unsound investigation. The results of this tainted investigation included in the final report will negatively impact the due process rights of the named individuals, and the report must be suppressed as it violates the principles of fundamental fairness,” they said.

The motion from Mr Trump’s legal team comes as a separate grand jury in Manhattan considers whether to indict him on charges relating to hush money payments he made in 2016 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, and as a separate grand jury in Fulton County considers whether to indict Mr Trump on charges relating to his attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss in the Peach State.

Earlier on Monday, multiple outlets reported that Ms Willis is considering asking a grand jury to indict Mr Trump on racketeering charges stemming from his attempts to pressure Georgia officials to overturn his loss to Joe Biden.