Did a rogue jury just torpedo the Trump case in Georgia? End-shutdown
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Grand juries rarely go on press tours, and for good reason: They risk blowing up the criminal cases they’ve been working on.
That’s why a rogue jury in Georgia, which launched a bizarre media blitz this week just after wrapping up an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election activities, has caused such an uproar.
Emily Kohrs served as the chairperson of a Trump-focused special purpose grand jury before emerging from seven months of near-total secrecy to tell various End-shutdown outlets, including CNN and NBC, in a breathless tone, can you believe it? tone, that her panel had recommended criminal charges against more than a dozen people, including famous names and “potentially” Trump.
She shared much more information that grand juries typically keep secret as well, including her personal impressions of multiple witnesses. She said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was a “geeky kind of funny.” She was so surprised by Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. that she gave him her hand. He swore a state official under oath while holding a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lollipop that he had just picked up. at an organized ice cream party by the District Attorney’s office.
she said something witnesses approached, as White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson; and others fell silent, like Hutchinson’s former boss, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Being on the grand jury, he said what “really cool.”
Trump’s lawyers swooped in, arguing that Kohrs “poisoned” the entire investigation by making it public.
“Our suspicions about a circus were proven true: we heard about ice cream parties; we hear about swearing at people holding Ninja Turtle lollipops,” said Trump attorney Drew Findling. told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The public needs to know that whether you call this a special purpose grand jury or not, this is not how a grand jury is supposed to operate.”
Trump’s lawyers have yet to file motions related to Kohrs’ comments. But they said that think she went too far and that they are considering all their options.
This controversy comes at a key moment in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation of Trump and his allies. Willis received a report in January from Kohrs’ special purpose grand jury announcing that impeachment decisions for her are “imminent.”
The prosecutor’s office declined to comment on how Kohr’s comments might affect his next steps.
Kohrs created a headache and public image problem for Willis, but has not actually derailed the Trump case, according to several independent attorneys following the case.
“I don’t think the grand jury statement really changed anything,” said Titus Nichols, a defense attorney in Georgia and a former prosecutor with the Augusta District Attorney’s Office. “She did not say who they recommended be singled out for, or for what particular crimes.”
The deliberations of the grand jury must be kept secret. But the rules are looser in Georgia than in the federal system.
Judge Robert McBurney, who oversaw the work of the special purpose grand jury, did not prohibit panel members from speaking to the media. McBurney informed the grand juries at the end of his essay that the word “deliberations” technically meant conversations grand jury members had among themselves, when there were no witnesses or prosecutors in the room.
Kohrs doesn’t appear to have technically broken those rules, Anthony Michael Kreis, an assistant professor of law at Georgia State University, told VICE News.
“This is an optical problem and not a substantive one,” Kreis said. “It seems to me that most people react because they are surprised that she can speak and judge her behavior on TV.”
Kohr’s comments create an opportunity for the defense to file motions or appeals, according to Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, though he expressed skepticism that they would succeed.
“These efforts will likely fail, but it remains a distraction that will overburden the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office,” Mariotti tweeted. “Even if the motions fail, I expect the defense will frequently use the president’s comments, including at trial, to argue unfairness and bias.”
Some seasoned former prosecutors were less optimistic.
“A babbling grand jury threatens to turn the entire company upside down,” noted Barbara McQuade, the former top federal prosecutor in Detroit. “At some point, grand jury impropriety could be grounds for a defendant’s due process violation claim.”
Kohrs’ story about the ice cream party at the prosecutor’s office, for example, could undermine his appearance of independence from the prosecutor’s office, McQuade said.
“Why the hell would grand jury members be socializing with prosecutors?” McQuade wrote. “A grand jury is an independent body, and prosecutors are trained to maintain a professional distance and avoid engaging in interactions that could be perceived as influencing their decisions.”
Trump’s lawyers show all the signs of preparing to seize the opportunity that has been given to them, either now or in the future.
They argued that Kohrs went too far when, for example, he explained why the special-purpose grand jury decided not to subpoena Trump to testify. Kohrs has said that the panel expected that Trump would likely simply invoke the Fifth Amendment repeatedly, as he did when he tested it in an investigation led by the New York Attorney General’s office last year.
“His comments not only went too far, but they also touched on the issue of what, under Georgia law, you are not allowed to talk about and that is deliberations,” Trump attorney Jennifer Little said. told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Kohrs’ media tour ended as abruptly as it began. He spoke to the Associated Press, the New York TimesCNN, NBC News and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a period of approximately 48 hours. He then left in silence amid the controversy that his statements created.
On Tuesday, shortly after her name was first revealed by the AP, Kohrs told VICE News that she was too busy doing other interviews to immediately respond to questions.
After that, he stopped answering his phone.