District attorney opposes release of special grand jury’s Trump report

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told a judge Tuesday she opposes releasing to the public a report by a special purpose grand jury that spent months investigating former President Donald Trump’s behavior after the 2020 election.

Describing herself as “one of the few people to have had the opportunity to read the report,” Willis said releasing it “at this time” would be inappropriate. The 23-person panel of Georgians, with three alternates, interviewed 75 witnesses while probing efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the presidential election.

The special purpose grand jury, an investigative body that can recommend charges but cannot indict, was dissolved earlier this month after submitting its report to Willis and Judge Robert McBurney.

“We are asking that this report not be released, because you have seen that report, decisions are imminent,” Willis told McBurney during a hearing Tuesday.

Willis’ office has indicated in court filings that others have faced scrutiny in the probe, including a group of 16 Georgian Republicans who participated in an alternate elector schemeand former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis watches as potential jurors are excused during proceedings to seat a special purpose grand jury in Georgia on May 2, 2022, to look into the actions of former President Donald Trump and his supporters who tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election.  / Credit: AP Photo/Ben Gray

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis watches as potential jurors are excused during proceedings to seat a special purpose grand jury in Georgia on May 2, 2022, to look into the actions of former President Donald Trump and his supporters who tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. / Credit: AP Photo/Ben Gray

Attorneys for a broad coalition of media organizations, including CBS News, submitted a filing Monday arguing that “the public interest in the report is extraordinary.”

The coalition noted that, according to a Jan. 9 order by McBurney, the grand jury recommended releasing the report.

Prosecutor Donald Wakefield said the office isn’t necessarily opposed to releasing it in the future, but wants it to be kept secret until charging decisions are made.

“Our position should not be understood to be a blanket opposition to release the report forever and ’til the end of time,” Wakefield said.

“We believe the report should be released now, and in its entirety, and that approach is consistent with the way the American judicial system operates,” said Tom Clyde, an attorney for the media coalition.

“It is not unusual for a district attorney or a prosecuting authority to be uncomfortable with having to release information during the progress of a case,” Clyde said, arguing that the secrecy of the grand jury process came to an end when the report was filed .

“The judges themselves have asked for it to be published,” Clyde said.

Attorneys for those who were witnesses or targets of the investigation were allowed to participate in the hearing, but did not.

Attorneys for Trump said in an emailed statement Monday that “to date, we have never been a part of this process.”

“The grand jury compelled the testimony of dozens of other, often high-ranking, officials during the investigation, but never found it important to speak with the President,” said attorneys Drew Findling, Marissa Goldberg and Jennifer Little. “He was never subpoenaed nor asked to come voluntarily by this grand jury or anyone in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. Therefore, we can assume that the grand jury did their job and looked at the facts and the law, as we have, and concluded there were no violations of the law by President Trump.”

McBurney did not indicate when he’d make a decision, but said during Tuesday’s hearing he needed to “think about this a little bit.” McBurney said he planned to send both sides follow-up questions.

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