Former President Donald Trump’s attorneys have filed a petition asking the Georgia Supreme Court to block the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office from pursuing cases against Trump and his allies for alleged criminal interference in the 2020 presidential election.
The frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Friday endorsed a petition before state Supreme Court justices claiming that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is committing a flagrant disregard for the U.S. Constitution as the office is expected to soon present to a grand jury evidence for possible indictments of a dozen individuals that could include the former president and other supporters in a sweeping prosecution.
The petition comes after a lower court disagreed with Trump’s claim that political biases are among the reasons why Georgia courts should disqualify the Atlanta Democrat Willis and her team of prosecutors. The petition argues that Trump asked for a different judge to consider a motion to quash than the Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who supervised the special jury process.
“Cloaking itself with the imprimatur of the special purpose grand jury’s authority, the District Attorney’s Office compelled the testimony of over 75 witnesses, many via material-witness warrants-criminal investigative tools that were beyond the special purpose grand jury’s lawful purview,” the Trump petition said. “All the while, the district attorney was laboring under an impermissible and actual conflict of interest: hosting and headlining a fundraiser for the political opponent of one of her investigation’s targets.”
That argument contends Willis should have been disqualified from the entire investigation, not just the portion involving Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, after she held a reception for Jones’ Democratic challenger last summer.
Trump’s attorneys argue in the petition that the court’s extraordinary consideration is warranted since Willis has signaled that criminal indictments are imminent. A new grand jury empaneled this week was set to consider issuing indictments of a dozen people connected in the election probe that opened in early 2021.
Drew Findling, Marissa Goldberg and Jennifer Little, Trump’s legal team, make that argument even though the state Supreme Court had not taken on a request for such extraordinary intervention in four decades when it had that discretion.
“Even in an extraordinarily novel case of national significance, one would expect matters to take their normal procedural course within a reasonable time,” the motion says. “But nothing about these processes have been normal or reasonable.”
In Friday’s petition to the state’s high court, Trump’s attorneys contend that the special grand jury that heard evidence in the case went beyond the purview of its duties. Willis has denied these allegations from Trump’s team that her investigation is based on political malfeasance.
A Georgia State University professor of constitutional law, Anthony Michael Kreis, took to Twitter Friday to express more than a little skepticism about the new Trump petition’s odds of success.
This is just the same nonsense we’ve seen before. The Special Purpose Grand Jury is an investigative body. Donald Trump cannot shield himself from an investigation simply because he doesn’t like the ordinary operations provided by Georgia law for public corruption crimes. #gapol https://t.co/tm6CNk13fo
— Anthony Michael Kreis (@AnthonyMKreis) July 14, 2023
Willis informed law enforcement agencies earlier this summer that additional security around the downtown Atlanta courthouse could be needed if indictments are announced in a potentially historic case. State prosecutors have asked Fulton court personnel to keep their court calendars open during the first half of August for the investigation that could lead to Trump and his allies facing criminal racketeering charges for conspiring to overturn his presidential election loss to President Joe Biden.
Trump lodged unfounded claims that widespread election fraud was the reason he lost in 2020 by nearly 12,000 votes in Georgia.
A successful prosecution against Trump would depend on whether his request for Georgia election officials to find enough votes in his favor crossed the legal threshold for soliciting and conspiring to commit election fraud in order to toss out legitimate election results, several legal analysts have said.
One of the most prominent witnesses in the special grand jury was Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Giuliani promoted conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud while urging Georgia lawmakers to intervene on Trump’s behalf.
Other Trump allies subpoenaed in the case include his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, and a slate of fake Republican Georgia electors who cast votes in support of Trump.
The Georgia Recorder is an independent, nonprofit news organization focused on connecting public policies to the stories of the people and communities affected by them. They bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues from their perch near Georgia's Capitol in downtown Atlanta. Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.