Georgia judge rules partial release of Trump special grand jury report

A Georgia judge is allowing the release of certain parts of a report by a special Fulton County grand jury tasked with investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies broke any laws as they sought to overturn his narrow 2020 election loss in the state.

In an order released Monday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said that he would allow three parts of the report - the introduction, the conclusion, and section eight - to be released to the public on Thursday.

In that section, McBurney says the special grand jury discusses its concern that "some witnesses may have lied under oath during their testimony."

Because the jury does not identify the witnesses, McBurney said it could be part of the release.

After nearly a year of investigation, the grand jury, which by law cannot indict anyone, voted to have their findings made public. But in court, lawyers from both sides argued over the details of when or whether any part of the report could be released at all.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Speaking at the court in January, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis asked that the report not be released, saying that "decisions are imminent" and the release of the report could impact the possibility of a fair trial for "future defendants" connected to the probe.

"We want to make sure that everyone is treated fairly," Willis told Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney.

McBurney acknowledged that there was "great interest" in the results, and pointed out that the few prior special purposes grand juries had their results disseminated.

The report is expected to include recommendations for Willis on possible criminal prosecution, though it’s unclear just how specific those recommendations will be. It will ultimately be up to Willis to decide whether to seek indictments from a regular grand jury.

The investigation is one of several that threaten potential legal consequences for the Republican former president as he seeks reelection in 2024. Over a period of roughly seven months, the special grand jury heard from 75 witnesses, including high-profile Trump allies, such as attorney Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and high-ranking Georgia officials, such as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp.

Willis began investigating shortly after a recording of a January 2021 phone call between Trump and Raffensperger became public. In that call, the president suggested that the state’s top elections official, a fellow Republican, could "find" the votes needed to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

"I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have," Trump had said. "Because we won the state."

Based on the witness list, it appears the grand jury is focused on the phone call from then President Trump to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the appointment of what some call "fake electors," efforts to pressure a Fulton County poll worker to falsely claim she committed election fraud, and an election data breach in Coffee County in Southeast Georgia

A grand jury handbook produced by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia says courts have repeatedly held that a grand jury "cannot include, in a report or general presentment, comments that charge or accuse identifiable person(s) of misconduct." That can only be done in a charging document, like an indictment, the handbook says.

The original order granting Willis’ request for a special grand jury authorized the panel to "make recommendations concerning criminal prosecution as it shall see fit."

It’s unclear just how specific those recommendations will be. The special grand jury did not have the power to issue indictments, and it will ultimately be up to Willis to decide whether to seek indictments from a regular grand jury.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.