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Trump seeks to remove Georgia election probe prosecutor and dismiss grand jury report

Donald Trump photographed on Jan. 12, 2021 while boarding Air Force One in Harlingen, Texas. AFP/File 

Lawyers representing former President Donald Trump are urging Georgia’s highest court to disqualify the district attorney in charge of investigating his actions following the 2020 election and to discard a special grand jury report associated with the inquiry. 

Fani Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, has publicly indicated that potential charges could be brought against Trump and his allies as early as this summer. Since early 2021, Willis has been investigating whether any laws were broken by Trump and his supporters in their attempts to overturn his narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden in Georgia.

Trump’s legal team has filed petitions in the Georgia Supreme Court and Fulton County Superior Court, targeting Willis and Judge Robert McBurney, who oversaw the special grand jury. The attorneys argue that the proceedings should be invalidated.

In response to Trump’s filing, Willis declined to comment, while McBurney did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The previous special grand jury, which reviewed evidence gathered by Willis’s office, concluded its work in January without the power to issue indictments, but made recommendations for potential criminal prosecutions.

Trump’s lawyers filed the petitions due to the tight timeline and unusual circumstances surrounding the case. They are seeking a court order to halt the proceedings and prevent Willis from using any evidence obtained through the special grand jury process. They also aim to disqualify Willis as a representative in any future proceedings involving the former president.

Willis launched the investigation in February 2021, partly prompted by Trump’s phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2, 2021, in which Trump urged Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” to secure his victory in Georgia. Trump has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the call.

The petitions aim to prevent Willis and her office from continuing to prosecute the case and to discard the report produced by the previous special grand jury. Trump’s lawyers argue that the entire process has been tainted and lacks legality and public respectability.

The latest filing follows a previous request by Trump’s legal team in March, where they made similar arguments and requested a different judge to hear their claims. Willis rejected those arguments as meritless, and McBurney has yet to rule on the requests.

Trump finds himself caught between a slow-moving judge and the impending possibility of indictment, leaving him with no choice but to seek action from the Supreme Court, according to his lawyers.

The investigation led by Willis began after Trump’s call to Raffensperger, during which he suggested that the Georgia Secretary of State could help him overturn his election loss. Last year, Willis requested the special grand jury to compel witness testimony through subpoena power.

While most of the grand jury report remains undisclosed due to a judge’s order, the foreperson of the panel has said that the special grand jury recommended charging multiple individuals without disclosing specific names.

In their filings, Trump’s attorneys argued that the special grand jury proceedings lacked clarity in the application of constitutional protections and suffered from conflicts of interest within the prosecutor’s office.

Willis responded in May, asserting that the arguments failed to meet the strict standards required for disqualifying a prosecutor and did not demonstrate violations of due process rights or unconstitutional application of the grand jury process.

Trump’s lawyers claim that the procedural safeguards protecting the rights of Trump and others involved have been violated by Willis and McBurney, rendering the entire process legally unsound and lacking public respectability.

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