Georgia Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to quash investigation
By Danny Hakim
In a ruling earlier this week, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected a long-shot attempt by former President Donald Trump’s legal team to scuttle an investigation into election interference weeks before indictment decisions are expected.
The pronouncement from the court was both unanimous and swift, coming just three days after Trump’s lawyers submitted their filing. They had sought a court order that would throw out the work of a special grand jury in Atlanta and disqualify Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, from the proceedings. She has been the prosecutor in charge of the investigation into whether Trump and his allies interfered in the 2020 election in Georgia.
Most of the court’s nine justices were originally appointed by Republican governors; thus far, the case has played out in Superior Court in Atlanta.
Trump’s lawyers had conceded in their filing that they were up against long odds and had identified “no case in 40 years” where the court had intervened in the way they were seeking. In their ruling, the justices said the Trump team had “not shown that this case presents one of those extremely rare circumstances in which this court’s original jurisdiction should be invoked, and therefore, the petition is dismissed.”
They also said that Trump’s lawyers had not presented “either the facts or the law necessary to mandate Willis’ disqualification.”
Trump’s lawyers had previously sought to scuttle the investigation with a motion, filed in March, to quash much of the evidence that Willis’ team had collected since the investigation began in early 2021 and to take Willis off it. But the Superior Court judge handling the case, Robert C.I. McBurney, has yet to rule.
“Stranded between the supervising judge’s protected passivity and the district attorney’s looming indictment, petitioner has no meaningful option other than to seek this court’s intervention,” the lawyers wrote in their filing to the state’s high court Friday.
The lawyers could not be reached immediately Monday; the district attorney’s office had no immediate comment.
Willis has signaled that any indictments will come in the first half of August; she recently asked judges in a downtown Atlanta courthouse not to schedule trials for part of that time as she prepares to bring charges. The investigation has examined whether the former president and his allies illegally interfered in the 2020 election in Georgia, where Trump lost narrowly to Joe Biden.
The special grand jury heard evidence for roughly seven months and recommended indictments of more than a dozen people; its forewoman strongly hinted in an interview with The New York Times in February that Trump was among them. To bring any charges, Willis must now seek indictments from a regular grand jury.