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Georgia Grand Jury Wraps up Probe into Trump’s Efforts to Overturn 2020 Election, as Judge Cues up Fight Over Making Report Public

Donald Trump and Fulton County DA Fani Willis

Donald Trump and Fulton County DA Fani Willis (Photo of Trump via Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images/ Photo of Willis via screenshot of video on DA’s website)

A special grand jury has completed its investigation over whether the efforts of former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia broke the law.

On Monday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney scheduled a hearing on Jan. 24, 2023, at noon Eastern Time, to determine whether to publicly release that report. By design, the special grand jury cannot issue indictments, only findings disseminated in a written report.

In a two-page order dissolving the special grand jury, McBurney noted jurors had been tasked with a criminal investigation into “the facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to possible attempts to disrupt the lawful administration of the 2020 elections in the State of Georgia.”

Their report would recommend “whether anyone should be prosecuted for such potential crimes,” the order notes.

“Given the special purpose grand jury’s delivery of its final report, […] it is the ORDER of this Court that the special purpose grand jury now stands DISSOLVED,” the judge wrote. “The Court thanks the grand jurors for their dedication, professionalism, and significant commitment of time and attention to this important matter. It was no small sacrifice to serve.”

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) and a separate grand jury, however, would determine whether to follow through on that recommendation.

It currently remains unclear whether the report will ever see the light of day.

“Remaining is the question of publication of the final report,” McBurney wrote. “The special purpose grand jury certified that it voted to recommend that its report be published pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-12-80. That provision is mandatory: ‘the judge shall order the publication as recommended.’ And that provision appears to apply to the work of special purpose grand juries.”

There appears, however to be a catch.

“Unresolved is the question of whether the special purpose grand jury’s final report constitutes a presentment,” McBurney added.

The hearing scheduled for later this month will answer that question.

Since its inception nearly one year ago, DA Willis’s special grand jury probe has subpoenaed prominent figures in Trump’s orbit in its work, including former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, ex-aide and pundit Boris Epshteyn, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and others. Some of these subpoenas have resulted in protracted litigation.

In a more than 300-page report, the Brookings Institution — a centrist think-tank — found that Trump’s post election conduct in Georgia put him at “substantial risk of possible state charges predicated on multiple crimes.” The group said that it based its findings on evidence in the public record, including Trump’s call urging Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to “find” 11,780 votes to swing the election in his favor, the fake-elector scheme, and other gambits for overturning his loss to President Joe Biden.

“These charges potentially include: criminal solicitation to commit election fraud; intentional interference with performance of election duties; conspiracy to commit election fraud; criminal solicitation; and state Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act violations,” the report stated. “Our conclusions are based entirely on publicly available reporting and evidence, including the recording of Trump’s call to Raffensperger, the false electoral certificates the purported Trump electors issued to Congress and the National Archives, first-hand congressional testimony that Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tried to influence the Georgia election, and the voluminous relevant evidence introduced into the public record by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.”

The district attorney’s office did not respond to Law&Crime’s request for comment.

UPDATE—Jan. 9, 2023, at 4:34 p.m. Eastern Time: This story has been updated to include analysis surrounding possible charges.

Read the court’s order below.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."