Fulton judge releases first glimpse at special grand jury report in Trump probe

Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests at Mar-a-lago on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump’s lawyers in Georgia are criticizing the Fulton County investigation into potential illegal election meddling after the foreperson of the special grand jury seated to help the probe went public this week. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

This story was updated at 11:51 a.m.

Sections of a long-awaited special grand jury report detailing efforts by former President Trump and his allies to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election are now public.

The five pages released on Thursday do not include the jurors’ topline recommendations on whether prosecutors should pursue criminal charges against those who allegedly tried to disrupt the transfer of power. 

But the file does imply that jurors voted on whether to recommend them.

“We set forth for the Court our recommendations on indictments and relevant statutes, including the votes by the Grand Jurors,” the jurors wrote. 

The now-public sections include little new information, mostly detailing the history of the investigation, thanking attorneys involved in the investigation and the jurors’ unanimous finding that “no widespread fraud took place” in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. 

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled earlier this week that most of the report should stay secret for now. 

But beyond the final report’s introduction and conclusion, McBurney also allowed for the publication of a section outlining jurors’ concerns that some unnamed witnesses lied under oath during their testimony.

“A majority of the Grand Jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it,” the jurors wrote. “The Grand Jury recommends that the District Attorney seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling.”

The special grand jury heard from 75 witnesses, including many of Trump’s closest allies, like lawyer Rudy Giuliani and ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and some of Georgia’s most powerful officials, including Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. 

The panel disbanded in January. Special grand juries cannot issue indictments, so District Attorney Fani Willis would have to ask a regular grand jury to bring any criminal charges she wants to pursue.

McBurney wrote that keeping most of the document out of public view is a matter of fairness to potential future defendants who may be named in the report.

Despite the limited information revealed Thursday, the final report marks a new phase in the now multi-year effort by the Fulton County District Attorney’s office to investigate the fallout from the last presidential election. 

That investigation was kickstarted by a January 2021 phone call, during which Trump pressured Raffensperger to “find” him 11,780 votes – the number he would have needed to outpace Joe Biden in Georgia.

Trump has discounted the investigation as a politically-motivated “witch hunt.”

The special grand jury also examined efforts to organize a false slate of electors for Trump and other attempts to interfere with the election, including targeting election workers and spreading false conspiracy theories about election fraud. 

Last summer, Willis notified Giuliani and the 16 fake electors that they were targets of the criminal investigation in Fulton County, though it’s unclear who may face indictments, if anyone. 

It will be up to Willis to ask a regular grand jury to bring any criminal charges.

“If this report fails to include any potential violations of referenced statutes that were shown in the investigation, we acknowledge the discretion of the District Attorney to seek indictments where she finds sufficient cause,” the jurors wrote.

At a January court hearing, Willis argued for the special grand jury report to remain secret for now, saying her decision on charges was “imminent.”

Three weeks later, Willis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that her decision was “legally imminent, not reporter imminent.”

But just because there has been little word from Willis for three weeks does not necessarily mean the district attorney’s office is in a holding pattern. 

Just like the special grand jury that wrote this final report, the grand jury Willis would need to greenlight any criminal charges also meets in secret.