Donald Trump loses bid to stop Fulton County grand jury probe

Donald Trump loses bid to stop Fulton County grand jury probe

The state Supreme Court late Monday unanimously dismissed a motion by Donald Trump’s lawyers to dismiss Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation of the former president’s alleged attempts to interfere with the 2020 presidential election outcome in Georgia.

A special purpose grand jury Willis assembled last year has recommended that one or more witnesses be indicted for perjury. No names were released when portions of the report were released in February.

Trump’s lawyers filed their motion to dismiss the case last week, alleging that Willis should not be allowed to pursue any charges against Trump because of a conflict of interest.

Willis, a Democrat, was disqualified last year from including Burt Jones, then a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, in the investigation because she had hosted a fundraiser on behalf of Democrat Charlie Bailey, Jones’ opponent. Jones went on to defeat Bailey last November.

Trump’s lawyers claimed the special purpose grand jury process was a violation of their client’s constitutional rights and that as a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, he would suffer “irremediable reputational harm” if he were forced to defend himself against a criminal indictment during the campaign.

While the Georgia Supreme Court has the authority to exercise original jurisdiction in “extremely rare situations,” the justices ruled Monday that Trump has not demonstrated a need for the court to pursue that route.

“The Court has made clear that a petitioner cannot invoke this Court’s original jurisdiction as a way to circumvent the ordinary channels for obtaining the relief he seeks without making some showing that he is being prevented fair access to those ordinary channels,” the justices wrote in a joint opinion.

“He makes no showing that he has been prevented fair access to the ordinary channels. Notably, Petitioner does not assert that the superior court has denied him the opportunity or ability to seek therein the relief he now requests from this Court.”

The Fulton County case involves a recorded phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January 2021 asking the Republican state elections chief to “find” 11,780 votes in Georgia. Democrat Joe Biden had carried the Peach State the previous November by 11,779 votes.

The special purpose grand jury also heard testimony surrounding the assembling of a panel of “fake” GOP electors in December 2020 to cast electoral votes for Trump.

With the special purpose grand jury’s work complete, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney empaneled two regular grand juries last week. One of those two juries is expected to hear the case against Trump and consider indictments that could be issued as soon as next month.

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