Georgia juror messes up Trump investigation with insightful interviews

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The forewoman of a special Georgia grand jury may have complicated an investigation into efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election by being outspoken about their findings in interviews this week, several legal experts said.

Emily Kohrs, the 30-year-old Atlanta-area resident who served for eight months as the special grand jury’s pre-wife, said in media interviews this week that the panel recommended several charges in its report, the details of which a Fulton County judge detailed are sealed had ordered.

Kohrs said the list of recommended indictments “is not short,” that there would be no “plot twist” when the public finally gets to see the contents of the report, and that it’s about “the big name I’m after.” everyone keeps asking” – presumably Trump himself – “I don’t think you’ll be shocked.”

Several legal experts said they were surprised and concerned by Kohr’s unusually candid comment, which included evaluating witnesses, tidbits about the jury’s contacts with prosecutors and expressing hope that the investigation will bring charges because of the length of time she and others have been in the case invested, would entail.

The comments could pose additional challenges for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, whose investigation was being scrutinized for what some have called legal and ethical missteps. Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney effectively barred Willis from fighting Lt. gov. To identify Burt Jones (R), who served as one of Trump’s fake voters in Georgia after Willis hosted a fundraiser for his opponent.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly criticized Willis for her outspoken characterization of the investigation and frequent media appearances. She told the Washington Post in September that her team had heard credible allegations of serious crimes being committed and that she believed some of those were going to jail.

If Willis indicts Trump – he will become the first prosecutor to bring charges against a former president – Trump could use Kohrs’ remarks to bolster the argument he has been making all along: that the Willis investigation is a political prosecution and did not amount to a serious preliminary investigation.

Trump commented on Kohr’s comments on Wednesday, calling the case “ridiculous” and criticizing her for “going around and doing a media tour that incredibly revealed the inner workings and minds of the grand jury.” This is not JUSTICE, this is illegal kangaroo court.”

Willis’ office declined to comment on Kohrs’ interviews.

Kohrs told CNN that former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and other witnesses declined to answer questions, citing their Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. She also described an ice cream event she attended that was hosted by Willis’ office.

“If what [Kohrs] says is true, if I were Fani Willis, I would belittle my prosecutors and say ‘because it creates all kinds of potential problems,’ including the appearance of compromising their independence,” said Barbara McQuade, a law professor at the University of California Michigan and former federal prosecutor.

Kohrs also told CNN that she would be deeply disappointed if no indictments resulted from the grand jury’s eight months of work – a comment that drew criticism from some quarters, as the length of an inquiry should not determine whether indictments follow.

“That was too much — too much information, too much time from me, too much time from everyone, too much time from them, too much fighting in court to get people to come before us,” Kohrs said. “It was just too much to just say, ‘Oh, okay, we’re fine. Bye!'”

Some scholars familiar with Georgia’s criminal process said Kohrs did not appear to have violated state laws by disclosing details of the case.

“Essentially, the jury did not in any way violate their obligation to keep the deliberation process secret,” said Anthony Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University. “And she has not released any publicly available information that was not already known or widely speculated. Therefore, the notion that she in any way spoiled the case or caused Fani Willis a headache is misguided.”

The special jury completed its work last week and concluded that some witnesses may have lied under oath and recommended that charges be filed if the district attorney could prove witnesses lied. These witnesses were not identified in the five-page excerpt of the released report, nor were other prosecution recommendations.

Kohrs, who has not responded to repeated requests for comment from The Post, told other outlets that she is following McBurney’s instructions on what she can discuss publicly about the grand jury’s work.

It was unclear Wednesday whether Trump or any of his allies called to testify planned to use Kohrs’ testimony to try to block or dismiss charges. Two lawyers for witnesses reached Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak candidly about a pending investigation, saying they had no such plans and were not aware of any such talks.

However, one of them said the foreman’s comments were unfair to people who have not yet been charged with a crime and illustrate problems with the Georgia investigation.

“What this jury is doing is very abusive to the due process of the rights of people who have not been accused of anything,” said the attorney, representing a witness who testified before the panel and spoke openly on condition of anonymity about a pending case Investigation. “It suggests that the whole thing was an exercise designed to achieve a predetermined outcome and was anything but an objective search for the truth.”

Kohrs’ comments were first reported by the Associated Press. She told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she swore in a witness, the late Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, while holding in one hand a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pop that she bought at a social event in Willis’ office had received.

She also told the Atlanta newspaper that the special panel heard recordings of previously disclosed phone conversations, including Trump’s Jan. 2, 2021, call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the president asked the Republican to “find” enough votes. undo his defeat. But she also heard other recordings that have not yet been released.

Willis launched the investigation just days after the Raffensperger call.

“We’ve heard a lot of footage of President Trump on the phone,” Kohrs told the Atlanta newspaper, declining to give details. “It’s amazing how many hours of footage one can find of this man on the phone. … Some of these were recorded privately by individuals or by a staff member.”

Excerpts from the grand jury’s report, released a week ago, offered no material clues as to the other grand jury findings. The panel specifically noted that it unanimously agreed that Georgia’s 2020 presidential election had not been marred by “widespread fraud,” contrary to what Trump and many of his allies claimed.

The remainder of the panel’s findings remained private — including what McBurney has described as “a statement of who should (or should not) be indicted and for what in relation to the conduct (and consequences) of the 2020 Georgia general election.” ”

McBurney said releasing the full report at this point would violate due process of “potential future defendants” because what was presented to the grand jury was a “unilateral inquiry” into what happened. He noted that there were no attorneys “advocating the objectives of the investigation” and those who testified were not allowed to “present evidence” or “disprove” other testimonies.

Kohrs’ public statements come amid other investigations into alleged efforts by Trump and his supporters to undermine the 2020 election results in key battleground states.

In recent weeks, a special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland has issued subpoenas for election officials in states like Georgia, as well as Trump campaign staff, as part of a Justice Department investigation into efforts Trump and his allies have made to reverse his 2020 year forgive loss.

In Fulton County, Willis will decide whether to criminally indict Trump or his allies. Her decision will likely be influenced by the findings of Atlanta-area residents selected in May to serve on the special panel.

The investigative panel, composed of 23 jurors and three deputies selected from a pool of Atlanta and suburban residents, was given full subpoena authority for documents and the ability to call witnesses. The jurors’ identities have not been released and some may never be.

From June through December, the panel heard about a parade of prominent Republicans, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Senator Lindsey O. Graham (SC) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, along with dozens of other witnesses — including some who have done so before not publicly stated what they knew about Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. The grand jury spoke to 75 witnesses.

At least 18 people have been notified that they are targets of Willis’s probe into election interference, according to court documents and statements from their attorneys. That list includes Giuliani, who was serving as Trump’s personal attorney at the time.

Willis’ office has not said whether Trump is a target of the investigation.

It remains unclear how quickly Willis can press charges — if she plans to. In order to indict anyone, Willis would have to present her case to a regular grand jury, which has the power to bring criminal charges.

Isaac Arnsdorf, Aaron Blake, and Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.