A Georgia attorney general is trying to remove Trump from the election investigation

An Atlanta-area attorney investigating whether Donald Trump and his allies broke the law as they tried to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia asked a judge on Monday to throw out a motion by Trump’s lawyers to throw out evidence gathered by a special-purpose grand jury. , alleging that the former president was trying to block the investigation “before any charges were filed.”

The lawsuit was filed in response to a motion by Trump’s Georgia-based legal team to block the release of the final report released by the special grand jury on March 20 and “prevent the use of any evidence obtained” from its investigation. It was “conducted under an unconstitutional statute” and violated Trump’s due process rights “through an illegal and unconstitutional process.”

In a response filed Monday afternoon, Fulton County District Attorney Fannie D. Willis (D) said the motion — joined last month by Georgia Republican and surrogate Trump nominee Kathy Latham, who was named as a target in the investigation — was “procedurally flawed and presented arguments without merit.”

In Willis’ filing, Trump and Latham “are not content to follow the ordinary course of law. They seek to ‘obstruct’ the criminal investigation. They ask that the judicial system place them above the general administration of criminal law; they have no standing, or fail to join in time, or have already failed or They do so by raising arguments that have no basis in law.

A special purpose grand jury to hear the case from 75 witnesses over several months last year recommended charges before issuing a final report in January, but largely pending a decision on Willis’ indictment. Because the special grand jury does not have the power to issue indictments — only recommendations — Willis must present his case to a regular grand jury, which can issue criminal charges if it chooses to do so.

Trump’s lawyers — Drew Fineling, Jennifer Little and Marissa Goldberg — sought to recuse Willis’ office and bar it from pursuing “any further action in this matter,” including indictments, saying the prosecutors violated “advocacy standards” and Trump’s constitutional rights in part. By publicly commenting on the case.

“The whole world watched the process [special-purpose grand jury] Expanding, what they found was a process that was confusing, flawed and, in some cases, blatantly unconstitutional,” according to a 483-page filing from Trump’s lawyers. “Given the scrutiny and gravity of the investigation and the people involved — namely, the outgoing President Donald J. Trump — the process must have been handled properly, fairly, and with respect for the law and the highest ethical standards.”

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In his response, Willis pushed back on those claims — questioning why Trump waited to file a complaint about the process and his office’s handling of the case.

“Instead of raising this issue immediately, Mr. Trump waited years. [special-purpose grand jury] Investigation, when [Fulton County District Attorney’s Office’s] “The own investigation has moved into its final stages,” Willis wrote.

Willis defended his public comments about the investigation, saying his comments were “conditional, vague, comments regarding ‘allegations’ or general statements about the investigation and the reason for its continuation.” Trump and Latham “have not (and cannot) show the pervasive misconduct necessary for disqualification,” Willis wrote.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who oversaw the special grand jury, ordered Willis to respond to Trump and Latham’s motions by Monday. Trump’s legal team has asked for a hearing on its requests to block grand jury testimony and remove the district attorney’s office from the investigation — making it unclear whether McBurney will testify Monday evening or when he will rule.

In a statement, Trump’s legal team said Willis “failed to address several important substantive issues” raised in his motion and planned to ask McBurney for permission to file a response.

Trump’s lawyers have asked that McBurney be removed from the case, arguing that he violated the rights of witnesses and those involved in the investigation by using improper legal guidelines — including grand juries. They asked the Fulton County Chief Judge to hear the matter, but McBurney continues to oversee the case.

The back-and-forth comes after Willis revealed in letters to state and local law enforcement officials that he plans to announce whether he will file charges in the case between July 11 and September 1. For this pending notification.”

The letters were a strong indication that Willis could file criminal charges in the high-profile case that not only probed the actions of Trump and his close associates, but also implicated several prominent Republicans, including the former New York mayor. Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.).

Several top Georgia officials, including Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who were targets of Trump’s lobbying to overturn Joe Biden’s narrow victory in the state, testified before a special grand jury investigating the case and could be key witnesses in any criminal investigation.

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Willis, a longtime Fulton County prosecutor who was elected district attorney in 2020, urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger (R) days after a recording of the January 2021 phone call was made public. He “found” enough votes to overturn Trump’s loss in Georgia.

It was one of several calls by Trump and his allies to Georgia officials, prompting them to launch efforts to overturn the state’s presidential election results, which Trump lost by less than 12,000 votes. Prosecutors presented audio of at least three calls to a special grand jury.

Willis has indicated publicly and in court filings that his office’s investigation includes several other inquiries, including false claims about election fraud made by Giuliani and other Trump associates to Georgia state lawmakers; threats and harassment targeting Georgia election workers; In December 2020, the Republican Electoral College assembled at the Georgia Capitol created an alternate list of electors and signed certificates falsely claiming that Trump had won the state.

Willis and his team are reportedly scrutinizing not only Trump’s phone calls, but also what knowledge he had and what role he may have played in other Georgia efforts, including assembling a slate of alternate electors. Willis has indicated that he is looking into Georgia’s extensive anti-fraud law to consider whether Trump and his allies conspired to violate the law to alter the state’s election results.

Willis told The Washington Post last year that he and other prosecutors had heard credible allegations of serious crimes and believed some would face prison terms if convicted.

At least 18 people have been named targets of the election interference investigation, according to court documents and statements from their attorneys. That list includes Giuliani and 16 alternate Republican voters — though at least eight of Trump’s voters are known to have accepted immunity deals in the case.

McBurney ruled earlier this year that the report should be sealed to protect the rights of “future defendants,” but suggested the entire document could be made public once the indictment decision in the Willis case is announced.

Emily Kors, a pioneer of the group, has said that a grand jury has recommended indictment of several people. He declined to say whether Trump was among them — citing McBurney’s instruction to keep jury deliberations private until prosecutors decide whether to file charges — but told reporters the public “wouldn’t be shocked” by the panel’s recommendations.

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Beyond letters to law enforcement, Willis has not spoken publicly about the case in recent months. Recent court filings have suggested the investigation remains active and ongoing, and a person close to the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly, said prosecutors were continuing to obtain and review evidence. Willis considers possible charges.

Last month, Willis sought to remove an attorney who until recently represented 10 of the alternative Republican voters from the case, saying he failed to inform his clients about immunity deals and violated legal ethics by representing multiple clients at once. Citing interviews with some of the Republicans in the lawsuit last month, some voters said Kimberly Burroughs made “adverse claims” against other voters represented by DeBrow.

But attorney DeBrow accused Willis and his team of knowingly making false accusations to remove him from the case.

In a May 5 court filing, DeBrow cited a letter to his clients. He revealed that two of the clients had obtained a different counsel and the remaining eight had accepted immunity, making it impossible for them to implicate each other. Citing audio recordings and transcripts of interviews of his clients with attorneys, in which he attended, he said he found no evidence that any of them implicated anyone else.

Last week, Willis filed a motion to drop his request to remove DeBrow from the case, saying it is now “moot” because two “potential defendants” DeBrow once represented have retained “new conflict-free counsel.”

DeBrow, whose legal fees are being paid by the Georgia Republican Party, said Willis could have confirmed the facts before filing a “frivolous motion” attacking his ethics. He has asked the district collector’s office to return the time taken to prepare the reply.

Neither the defense nor the lawsuit filings identified the “unimmunized” Trump voters that DeBrow did not represent, but Latham, one of DeBrow’s clients, noted in an April 28 filing that he has retained a new attorney in the case.

Latham, a former chairwoman of the Republican Party in Coffee County, has examined not only her role as a surrogate, but also what role she may have played in copying sensitive election data from voting machines to Trump allies. Coffee District.

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