Fulton DA says court should dismiss Trump’s special grand jury challenges
Fani Willis responded Monday to a motion from Trump’s legal team that also seeks to quash the release of her final special grand jury report.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Fani Willis responded Monday to a motion from Donald Trump’s legal team that the Fulton County district attorney disqualify herself from further investigation in his alleged 2020 election interference. The motion from Trump’s legal team also includes a request to quash the release of Willis’ final special grand jury report.
In her response, Willis also requested Fulton County Superior Court refuse Trump’s request to quash the report, and that all claims against her office be dismissed.
Willis said Trump’s legal team “advance constitutional arguments for which they have no standing and which fail to demonstrate the unconstitutionality of pertinent statutes. They request that [Willis’ office] be disqualified on grounds which fail to meet the exacting standards for prosecutorial disqualification under Georgia law, and also by repeating prior unsuccessful arguments or adopting standards which do not apply.
“They refer vaguely to violations of their own due process rights arising from a ‘tainted’ grand jury process without making a showing demonstrating the existence of either,” her response said. “Overall, the Motions are procedurally flawed and advance arguments that lack merit, and the State respectfully requests that this Court retain supervision of this matter and dismiss or deny the Motions as appropriate without a hearing.”
Willis also said any motions to quash her special grand jury report “should be dismissed or denied as appropriate.
“The Movants advance constitutional arguments for which they have no standing and which fail to demonstrate the unconstitutionality of pertinent statutes,” the response said. “They request that [Willis’ office] be disqualified on grounds which fail to meet the exacting standards for prosecutorial disqualification under Georgia law, and also by repeating prior unsuccessful arguments or adopting standards which do not apply.
“They refer vaguely to violations of their own due process rights arising from a ‘tainted’ grand jury process without making a showing demonstrating the existence of either. Overall, the Motions are procedurally flawed and advance arguments that lack merit, and the State respectfully requests that this Court retain supervision of this matter and dismiss or deny the Motions as appropriate without a hearing.”
Back in March, the special grand jury report was partially released, with the majority of the grand jury believing one or more of the witnesses perjured themselves.
The report also said the special grand jury unanimously found no evidence of any widespread fraud in the election and recommended Willis seek the “appropriate indictments” for the unnamed perjuries.
Last week, Trump appeared on a nationally televised CNN town hall, in which he doubled down on claims the 2020 election was stolen from him. He also repeated claims of election fraud in Fulton County, and again defended his phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Last year, Willis opened a criminal investigation “into attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia General Election.” Willis continues alleging Trump attempted to interfere in Georgia’s election, a contest that saw Joe Biden become the first Democrat to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.
Willis has notified local law enforcement officials she will announce charges from her investigation sometime between July 11 and Sept. 1, 2023. In an April 24 letter, Willis warned Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat of “charging decisions” coming in the summer in connection with her investigation into the former president.
Trump has already become the nation’s first ex-president in history to face criminal charges. Earlier this year, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged the 45th president with alleged hush money payments made to porn actress Stephanie Clifford and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whom he feared would go public with claims that they had extramarital sexual encounters with him.
A Manhattan grand jury has been probing Trump’s involvement in a $130,000 payment made in 2016 to the porn actor Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public about a sexual encounter she said she had with him years earlier.
Two weeks ago, Trump lost a civil battery and defamation case against him in New York in a case brought against him by E. Jean Carroll. The writer claimed Trump assaulted her in a New York department store back in the 1990s. A Manhattan federal jury has ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million, which the former president is appealing.
Willis has said her grand jury heard from 75 witnesses. Some of the more notable figures were Gov. Brian Kemp; Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr; Raffensperger; former lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan; former White House official Mark Meadows; former U.S. House speaker and Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich; and Republican South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Trump has accused Willis of conducting a “strictly political witch hunt.” Trump announced his 2024 White House candidacy last November.
Last year, Raffensperger told a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that Trump’s claims of 2020 election fraud “were false.”
Raffensperger, along with Gabriel Sterling, the office’s chief operating officer, appeared before the Democrat-led House Select Committee’s nationally televised public hearings. Raffensperger told the committee that the 2020 election went “remarkably smooth,” with average ballot-casting wait times between two to three minutes statewide. “I felt we had a successful election,” he said.
Trump’s indictment adds to his list of firsts in American politics:
- First president to be impeached in the 21st century
- First president to be impeached twice in U.S. history, as well as the first to be acquitted twice;
- First president in the 21st century to be defeated in a re-election bid;
- First Republican president since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to be defeated in a re-election bid;
- First modern ex-president to lose a re-election bid and then launch a third bid.
- First ex-president in history to face criminal charges.
- First ex-president in history to face criminal charges while running a White House campaign.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has attacked both Bragg’s and Willis’ investigations. A conviction would not prevent Trump from running for or winning the presidency in 2024.
MORE TRUMP COVERAGE
- DA Fani Willis withdraws push to disqualify attorney for Trump electors
- Fulton DA: Expect ‘historical decision this summer’ as Trump probe continues
- Fulton sheriff: We’re securing the courts before any Trump-related indictments
- Fulton DA Fani Willis to announce any Donald Trump indictments this summer
- Fulton DA offered immunity deals to Trump-supporting GOP electors
- Atlanta and New York: Two cities, two Donald Trump investigations
- Fulton DA given until May 1 to respond to Trump’s motion to quash report
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