Georgia Judge Will Release Parts of Report on Trump Election Inquiry
ATLANTA — A Georgia judge said on Monday that he would disclose parts of a grand jury report later this week that details an investigation into election interference by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies, though he would keep the jury’s specific recommendations secret for now.
In making his ruling, the judge, Robert C.I. McBurney of Fulton County Superior Court, said the special grand jury raised concerns in its report “that some witnesses may have lied under oath during their testimony.” But the eight-page ruling included few other revelations about the report, the contents of which have been carefully guarded, with the only physical copy in the possession of the district attorney’s office.
The ruling does, however, indicate that the special grand jury’s findings are serious. The report includes “a roster of who should (or should not) be indicted, and for what, in relation to the conduct (and aftermath) of the 2020 general election in Georgia,” Judge McBurney wrote.
For the last two years, prosecutors in Atlanta have been conducting a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump and his allies interfered in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, which he narrowly lost to President Biden. Much of the inquiry — including interviewing dozens of witnesses — was conducted before the special grand jury, which under Georgia law had to issue a final report on its findings, which in this case includes charging recommendations. Special grand juries do not have the power to issue indictments.
It will be up to Fani T. Willis, the local district attorney, to decide what, if any, charges she will bring to a regular grand jury.
Judge McBurney said he would release portions of the report on Thursday. In addition to the part detailing the grand jury’s concerns about witnesses lying under oath, he will make public the report’s introduction and conclusion — sections that could give a general impression of the extent to which Mr. Trump and others might face legal jeopardy.
At a hearing last month, a coalition of news organizations asked the judge to make the report public, as the jurors had recommended. But Ms. Willis sought to keep the special grand jury’s findings secret, at least ahead of her charging decisions, saying during the hearing that she was “mindful of protecting future defendants’ rights.”
Judge McBurney said in his ruling that the nature of the special grand jury process allowed for only “very limited due process” for “those who might now be named as indictment-worthy in the final report.” Because of that, he said, the report’s charging recommendations “are for the District Attorney’s eyes only — for now.”
Thomas M. Clyde, a lawyer for the news organizations, including The New York Times, declined to comment on the ruling. Ms. Willis, in a statement on Monday, said: “I believe Judge McBurney’s order is legally sound and consistent with my request.”
Nearly 20 people known to have been named targets of the criminal investigation, as well as others, could face charges, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, and David Shafer, the head of the Georgia Republican Party.
The central question is whether Mr. Trump himself will face criminal charges. Legal analysts who have followed the case say there are two areas of considerable risk for Mr. Trump.
The first is his direct involvement in recruiting a slate of bogus presidential electors after the 2020 election, even after Georgia’s results were recertified by the state’s Republican leadership. The second are the calls that he made to pressure state officials after the election, including one to Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, in which Mr. Trump said he needed to “find” 11,780 votes.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers said last month that their client “was never subpoenaed nor asked to come in voluntarily by this grand jury or anyone in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.”
“Therefore,” the lawyers added, “we can assume that the grand jury did their job and looked at the facts and the law, as we have, and concluded there were no violations of the law by President Trump.”
The Atlanta investigation is not the only potential criminal entanglement facing Mr. Trump as he begins another run for the presidency. In November, the Department of Justice named a special counsel, Jack Smith, to oversee two Trump-related criminal investigations.
And last month, the Manhattan district attorney’s office began presenting evidence to a grand jury about whether Mr. Trump paid hush money to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign, laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months.
Judge McBurney said that he was delaying the release of parts of the report until Thursday to allow Ms. Willis’s office time to meet with him and discuss the “logistics of publication” and the possibility of further redactions.