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Georgia juror upsets Trump probe with revealing interviews

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Georgia juror upsets Trump probe with revealing interviews


The head of a special grand jury in Georgia may have complicated the investigation into efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election by speaking bluntly about its findings in interviews this week, several legal experts said.

Emily Kors, the 30-year-old Atlanta-area resident who served for eight months as the foreman of the special grand jury, said in media interviews this week that the panel recommended multiple charges in its report, the details of which by U.S. District Judge Fulton had ordered sealed.

Kors said the list of recommended indictments is “not short,” that there will be no “conspiracy twist” when the public finally gets to see the contents of the report, and that in terms of “the big name that everybody keeps talking about they ask me” — possibly Trump himself — “I don’t think you’re going to be shocked.”

Several legal experts said they were surprised and concerned by Kors’ unusually candid comments, which included evaluating witnesses, poking fun at jurors’ communication with prosecutors, and expressing hope that the investigation would lead to indictments because of how long she and others have invested in the case.

The The remarks could create further challenges for Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis, whose investigation has come under scrutiny for what some have described as legal and ethical lapses. Supreme Court Justice Robert McBurney effectively barred Willis from investigating Lt. Gov. Bert Jones (R), who served as one of Trump’s bogus voters in Georgia after Willis hosted a fundraiser for his opponent.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly criticized Willis for her outspoken characterization of the investigation and frequent media appearances. She told The Washington Post in September that her team had heard credible allegations that serious crimes had been committed and that she believed some would receive prison time.

If Willis indicts Trump — becoming the first prosecutor to indict a former president — Trump could use Kors’ remarks to bolster the argument he’s made all along: that the Willis investigation amounts to a political prosecution rather than a serious investigation .

Trump weighed in on Kors’ comments on Wednesday, calling the case “ridiculous” and criticizing her for “going around and doing a media tour revealing, incredibly, the inner workings and thoughts of the Grand Jury. This is not JUSTICE, this is an illegal kangaroo court.”

Willis’ office declined to comment on Kors’ interviews.

Kors told CNN that former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and other witnesses refused to answer questions, citing their Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. She also described an ice cream social she attended hosted by Willis’ office.

“If What [Kohrs] says it’s true, then if I were Fannie Willis, I would put my prosecutors on and say ‘because it creates all kinds of potential problems,’ including kind of compromising their independence,” said Barbara McQuaid, a law professor at the University of Michigan and former federal prosecutor.

Kohrs also told CNN she would be deeply disappointed if no charges were brought as a result of the grand jury’s eight months of work, a comment that drew criticism from some quarters because the length of the investigation should not determine whether charges follow.

“It was too much — too much information, too much of my time, too much of everybody’s time, too much of their time, too much litigation in court to get people to appear before us,” Kors said. “There was too much to just be, ‘Oh, well, we’re good.’ Bye!'”

Some scholars familiar with the Georgia criminal procedure said Kohrs did not appear to have violated any state laws by disclosing details of the case.

“At the end of the day, the juror in no way breached his duty to keep the deliberative process secret,” said Anthony Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University. “And she has not released information into the public domain that was not already known or widely speculated. So the idea that she somehow tainted the case or caused Fanny Willis headaches is wrong.

The special grand jury concluded its work last week, concluding that some witnesses may have lied under oath in their testimony and recommending charges if the district attorney can prove there were witnesses who lied. Those witnesses were not identified in the five-page excerpt of the report released, nor are there any other charging recommendations.

Kohrs, who did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Post, told other media outlets that she followed McBurney’s instructions about what she was allowed to discuss publicly about the grand jury’s work.

It was unclear Wednesday whether Trump or any of his allies who have been called as witnesses planned to use Kors’ statements to try to block or toss charges. Two attorneys for witnesses reached Wednesday, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly about an upcoming investigation, said they had no such plans and were unaware of any such conversations.

But one said the handyman’s remarks were unfair to people who have not yet been charged with a crime and illustrated problems with the investigation in Georgia.

“What this juror is doing is very much an abuse of the due process rights of people who have not been charged with anything,” said the attorney, who is representing a witness who testified before the panel and spoke on condition of anonymity. to speak candidly about an upcoming investigation. “This suggests that it was all an exercise designed to achieve a predetermined result and was anything but an objective search for the truth.”

Kors’ remarks were first reported by The Associated Press. She told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she swore in one witness, the late Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, while holding in one hand an iced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mug she received at a social event hosted by Willis’ office .

She also told The Atlanta Journal that the special grand jury heard tapes of previously disclosed phone calls, including a January 2, 2021 call Trump had with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which the president asked the fellow Republican to “find ‘ enough votes to reverse his defeat. But she also heard other recordings that have not yet been released.

Willis began the investigation just days after Raffensperger’s call.

“We heard a lot of tapes of President Trump on the phone,” Kors told the Atlanta newspaper, declining to elaborate. “It’s amazing how many hours of footage you can find of this guy on the phone. … Some of those that are privately recorded by people or recorded by an official.”

Excerpts from the grand jury report released a week ago offer no major clues about the grand jury’s other findings. The panel noted that it unanimously agreed that Georgia’s 2020 presidential election was not marred by “widespread fraud,” contrary to claims by Trump and many of his allies.

The rest of the panel’s findings remained private – including what McBurney described as “a list of who should (or shouldn’t) be charged, and for what, in relation to the conduct (and aftermath) of the 2020 general election in Georgia. “

McBurney said releasing the full report at this point would violate due process of “potential future defendants” because what was presented to the grand jury was a “one-sided examination” of what happened. He noted that there were no lawyers “to advocate for the purposes of the investigation” and that those who did testify were not allowed to “present evidence” or “rebut” other testimony.

Kors’ public remarks come amid other investigations into alleged efforts by Trump and his supporters to undermine the results of the 2020 election in key battleground states.

In recent weeks, a special prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland has issued subpoenas to election officials in states including Georgia, as well as Trump campaign aides, as part of a Justice Department investigation into efforts by Trump and his allies to , to reverse 2020 defeat.

In Fulton County, Willis will decide whether to indict Trump or his allies. Her decision will likely be influenced by the findings of Atlanta-area residents selected in May to serve on the special grand jury.

The investigative body of 23 jurors and three alternates selected from a pool of Residents of Atlanta and its suburbs were given full subpoena power and the ability to call witnesses. The identities of the jurors have not been made public and some it may never be.

From June to December, the panel heard from a parade of prominent Republicans, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, along with dozens of other witnesses — including some who are not gave public testimony about what they knew about Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. The grand jury spoke to 75 witnesses.

At least 18 people have been notified that they are targets of the Willis investigation into election interference, according to court documents and statements from their attorneys. That list includes Giuliani, who was Trump’s personal attorney at the time.

Willis’ office has not said whether Trump is the subject of the investigation.

It remains unclear how quickly Willis might begin pressing charges — if that’s what he plans to do. To indict someone, Willis would have to present his case to a regular grand jury, which has the power to issue indictments.

Isaac Arnsdorff, Aaron Blake, and Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.

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