Georgia judge takes jabs at Trump as he refuses to block potential election-interference indictment
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis talks with a member of her team during proceedings to seat a special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, in May 2022 to look into the actions of former President Donald Trump and his supporters who tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Photo by Ben Gray/The Associated Press.
A judge in Fulton County, Georgia, ruled Monday that former President Donald Trump and a fake GOP elector in the state can’t quash a special grand jury report on election interference, can’t block a potential indictment, and can’t get the district attorney tossed from the case.
Judge Robert McBurney of the Fulton County Superior Court ruled that neither Trump nor the alternate elector have standing to challenge a potential indictment before it is issued.
The New York Times characterized McBurney’s opinion as “forcefully” rejecting the challenge. Courthouse News Service described his opinion as “searing.”
McBurney wrote that the injuries asserted by Trump and fake elector Cathleen Latham “are either insufficient or else speculative and unrealized.”
“While being the subject (or even target) of a highly publicized criminal investigation is likely an unwelcome and unpleasant experience, no court ever has held that that status alone provides a basis for the courts to interfere with or halt the investigation,” McBurney wrote. “Trump knew this, and now Latham does too.”
Another reason to toss the challenge, McBurney said, stems from policy reasons.
“Prosecution is an executive branch function; the judicial branch should involve itself sparingly and delicately in the work that precedes formal charges,” he wrote.
McBurney also ruled that neither caselaw nor statute allows Trump and Latham to get the special purpose grand jury’s report “locked away from public view forever.” Parts of the report released in February found no widespread election fraud in Georgia and the possibility that some witnesses may have lied under oath.
McBurney also refused to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis from the case.
To disqualify the district attorney, there would have to be a conflict of interest or “forensic misconduct,” McBurney said. Neither ground has been shown, he concluded.
“The drumbeat from the district attorney has been neither partisan (in the political sense) or personal, in marked and refreshing contrast to the stream of personal invective flowing from one of the movants,” McBurney said in an evident jab at Trump.
McBurney took another apparent shot at Trump in the third footnote, when he seemed to reference Trump’s successful fundraising following his legal troubles.
“For some, being the subject of a criminal investigation can, à la Rumpelstiltskin, be turned into golden political capital, making it seem more providential than problematic,” he wrote.
In the 15th footnote, McBurney said his opinion should moot another Trump challenge to Willis and McBurney that is pending in Cobb County, Georgia.
ABAJournal.com: “Trump motion seeks to block evidence from Georgia special purpose grand jury, disqualify district attorney”