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Trump Grand Juror Stirs Uproar by Hinting at Panel’s Advice

(Bloomberg) — The foreperson of the special grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s election results has complicated the work of prosecutors with a series of surprisingly frank media interviews but is unlikely to get any potential cases thrown out.

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Legal experts said the unusual candor about secret proceedings, while not illegal, is almost certain to be used by lawyers defending anyone ultimately charged.

“It’s an outrageous breach of grand jury confidentiality and undermines the fairness of the special grand processes,” said Stanley Brand, a one-time House general counsel who has been representing several former Trump aides in separate investigations.

“Any comments on the credibility and truthfulness of named witnesses may be alleged by anyone charged ultimately to challenge both the grand jury process and any potential jurors who viewed the interview,” added Brand, who does not represent anyone in the Georgia inquiry.

In a series of interviews with news organizations including the Associated Press, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, NBC and the New York Times, the jury foreperson, Emily Kohrs, said that the panel’s still-secret recommendations include indicting more than a dozen people, even hinting strongly that one of the targets would be Trump.

“You are not going to be shocked,” Kohrs told the Times, when asked whether the Fulton County panel had recommended charging the former president. “It’s not rocket science.”

Barbara McQuade, a former US attorney now at the University of Michigan’s law school, said that while the foreperson’s public comments are “highly inappropriate and threaten the integrity of the investigation,” she did not think the comments would ultimately harm any prosecution “because of the unique role of the special grand jury.”

“A separate grand jury will need to consider the evidence and make any charging decisions, which should cleanse the process of any taint,” McQuade said.

Kohrs did not return multiple calls and texts for comment.

The special grand jury, which made recommendations on charges but could not indict, interviewed 75 witnesses over eight months before submitting its report to the court. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney released portions of that report last week, including a recommendation that District Attorney Fani Willis pursue perjury charges against one or more witnesses.

McBurney, in a hearing last month, said the grand jurors can’t discuss their deliberations but aren’t barred from talking about anything else. In his opinion on releasing the report last week, though, he said publishing the names of people recommended for indictment but not charged could violate their due process rights.

The portions he released did not name anyone and included no other indictment information. A separate grand jury would have to bring any indictments. A new grand jury has not heard evidence, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Trump Charges

In her interview with the Journal-Constitution, Kohrs was reported to have rolled her eyes and laughed when asked about Trump’s statement that the partial release of the grand jury’s report represented “total exoneration.”

“Did he really say that?” she asked. “Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s phenomenal. I love it.”

Trump, in a Wednesday post on his Truth Social platform, said Kohrs is “going around and doing a Media Tour revealing, incredibly, the Grand Jury’s inner workings & thoughts” and that “this is not JUSTICE, this is an illegal Kangaroo Court. “

Separately, on Thursday, lawyers for leading House conservative and Trump ally Scott Perry are arguing in a hearing in a federal appeals court in Washington that the contents of Perry’s phone seized by the FBI in August cannot be searched in relation to investigations of events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack.

Backed by House Republican and Democratic leadership, lawyers for Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, argue that the “speech or debate” clause of the Constitution, which protects legislative work from executive branch interference, bars the review of the phone data.

Riah Greathouse, an Atlanta attorney who worked with Willis in the district attorney’s office, said the grand juror’s comments could come up in future defense arguments. Lawyers could claim that the amount of pretrial publicity and information about the special purpose grand jury’s work was so pervasive and prejudicial that it would be impossible to seat an impartial jury and have a fair trial.

It’s “extremely rare” for those types of motions to succeed, Greathouse said, but Kohrs’s decision to go public created an opportunity.

“At this point, if you’re on the defense, your whole job is to throw things up and see if it sticks,” he said.

Former federal prosecutor Kevin O’Brien said Kohrs’ remarks won’t affect any criminal cases because the special grand jury on which she sat had no power to indict and only made recommendations.

“To the extent Ms. Kohrs’s comments reflect on the proceedings before the special grand jury, they are irrelevant to Ms. Willis’ charging decisions and any votes by the regular grand jury, which are the only votes that matter,” he said.

Willis’s probe looked at a range of activities by Trump and his supporters after the 2020 presidential election, including a call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking that he find more votes and the effort to submit an alternative slate of Trump electors before Congress counted the Electoral College votes.

Lawyers for those alternative electors did not respond to requests for comment on the grand jury forewoman’s remarks. Neither did Trump’s Atlanta lawyers. A spokesman for Willis declined to comment.

–With assistance from David Voreacos, Billy House, Erik Larson and Zoe Tillman.

(Updates with court hearing beginning in 16th paragraph)

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