Judge rejects Trump’s attempt to curtail Georgia election case

A Georgia judge on Monday vigorously dismissed an attempt by former President Donald J. Trump to derail an investigation into attempts by Mr Trump and his allies to reverse his 2020 election defeat in the state — an investigation that expected to lead to indictments in mid-2020. August.

Mr Trump tried to get Judge Robert CI McBurney of Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta to throw out evidence collected by a special grand jury and to have the prosecutor overseeing the investigation, Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County District Attorney disqualify.

But in a nine-page order, Judge McBurney wrote that Mr Trump did not have the legal authority to raise such challenges prior to the indictment. The judge said the “injuries” Mr Trump allegedly suffered from the two-and-a-half-year investigation “are either insufficient or speculative and unrealized.”

The office of Ms. Willis, a Democrat, is expected to present potential charges in the matter to a regular grand jury in the next few weeks.

The Georgia investigation is part of a whirlwind of legal troubles surrounding Mr Trump, who previously faced state charges in New York related to hush money payments in 2016 and federal charges related to the keeping and handling of classified documents after he left the office in 2016 2021

He has also received a target letter suggesting he could be re-indicted as part of a federal investigation into broader efforts to redeem his 2020 election defeat.

In Atlanta, law enforcement tightened security ahead of the grand jury trial there.

Last week, officials erected orange barriers around the Fulton County Courthouse in downtown Atlanta. Ms. Willis has asked the FBI for “means of protection” for the court complex and has had some of their employees fitted with bulletproof vests. She has also announced remote work days for many staffers for the first three weeks of August and asked the judges not to schedule any further hearings for part of that time.

A “special” grand jury, with no indictment standing, questioned dozens of witnesses and subpoenaed documents over the course of about seven months. The jury then issued an advisory report recommending indicting a number of people for violating Georgian law, according to the jury foreman.

The details of those recommendations have not yet been released, although the foreman clearly indicated in an interview with the New York Times in February that Mr Trump was among those accused of charges.

Judge McBurney appeared to have little patience for the arguments of Mr Trump’s legal team in his Monday ruling, suggesting that Mr Trump’s lawyers were distorting the trial with rogue filings.

“Going forward, it is recommended that attorneys follow the professional standard and consult the Chamber’s staff for timetables and deadlines before burdening other courts with unnecessary and unsubstantiated claims,” ​​Judge McBurney wrote.

Regarding the Trump team’s claims that an indictment would harm Mr. Trump, Judge McBurney appeared to allude to the fundraising conducted during Mr. Trump’s campaign and referred to the criminal proceedings against him.

“For some, being the subject of a criminal investigation à la Rumpelstiltskin can be turned into golden political capital, which seems more providential than a problem,” he wrote in a footnote. “Nevertheless, the mere fact of being the subject (or aim) of an investigation does not entitle a court to bring an action to have that investigation dismissed.”

A representative for Ms Willis’ office declined to comment on the judge’s ruling on Monday. Trump’s attorneys were not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously denied a request with a similar goal by Mr Trump’s Georgia legal team. It argued, among other things, that the special grand jury’s proceedings were “manifestly unconstitutional” and that Ms Willis had made biased public statements.

Joining Mr. Trump’s lawsuit in the Supreme Court is Cathy Latham, one of 16 Republicans who tried to cast false electoral college votes for Mr. Trump in December 2020 and was named by prosecutors as a target of the investigation. Judge McBurney also denied Ms Latham’s motion in his order on Monday.

Judge McBurney not only found that Mr Trump and Ms Latham’s lawsuits were premature, but also dismissed Mr Trump’s claim that prosecutors were unduly biased. The judge also appeared to criticize the former president for his attacks on Ms Willis, who is black and whom Mr Trump has described as a “local racist Democratic district attorney” who is trying to harm him politically.

“The district attorney’s drumbeat was neither partisan (in the political sense) nor political, in stark and refreshing contrast to the torrent of personal abuse emanated from one of the claimants,” the judge wrote.

A third challenge by Mr Trump’s attorneys is expected to be considered by a judge in Cobb County, Georgia, in a hearing scheduled for Aug. 10. The matter was moved to the district, a suburb of Atlanta, after the chief justice. The Fulton County Supreme Court ruled that he and his Fulton County peers were barred from deciding that motion. Judge McBurney wrote Monday that the Cobb County challenge should now be considered moot.