Former President Donald Trump’s attorneys filed a motion Monday to quash the report of a special grand jury that conducted a criminal investigation into whether there were any “coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections” in Georgia by him and his allies.
In a 51-page filing, Trump’s attorneys asked that all evidence stemming from the special grand jury be deemed unconstitutional. They also requested that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis be “disqualified from further investigation and/or prosecution of this matter” or any related matter derived from use of special purpose grand jury.
Willis’ office declined to respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
Trump’s lawyers cited the Fifth and the 14th Amendments of the Constitution, as well as articles in the Georgia state Constitution in arguing that the grand jury’s investigation was tainted from the start.
They argued that the state laws that authorized the grand jury are “vague and have left much to interpretation,” and that the process and function of the grand jury are “similarly scant, unclear and sometimes contradictory.”
“This is the framework within which the [Fulton County District Attorney’s Office] has chosen to undertake this investigation of undoubtedly historic and national significance,” Trump’s lawyers claimed. “This is the framework which has been revealed through this process to be erroneous and, more importantly, unconstitutional.”
They alleged the grand jury “illegally compelled the attendance and testimony” of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp “despite his valid assertion of sovereign immunity” and “numerous witnesses from outside the state of Georgia.”
They also slammed Willis for having “routinely sat for interview with various media outlets regarding the matter.”
“Prosecutors must be circumspect and not make comments that have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing a criminal proceeding or that heighten the public condemnation of the accused, and they should limit comments to what is necessary to inform the public of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
Willis, they wrote, “regularly expressed her personal opinions about the criminality of the acts under investigation thereby suggesting the guilt of those who may be accused and has criticized the exercise of constitutional rights of witnesses contrary to the prosecutorial obligations of the FCDA’s office.”
Trump’s lawyers also took aim at jury foreperson Emily Kohrs, who sat down for interviews with several media outlets last month, including NBC News, and said the grand jury recommended indictments for more than a dozen people.
“The foreperson’s now widespread statements have provided a first-hand glimpse inside the process — an otherwise historically secretive affair,” they wrote. Her public comments, they also said, “in and of themselves likewise violate notions of fundamental fairness and due process and taint any future grand jury pool.
The filing also argues that the supervising judge was incorrect in designating the special purpose grand jury a criminal matter rather than a civil one — which they claim resulted in an improper investigative process.
“The public cannot have faith in the impartiality of this constitutionally unsound investigation,” they alleged. “The results of this tainted investigation included in the final report will negatively impact the due process rights of the named individuals, and the report must be suppressed as it violates the principles of fundamental fairness.”
The Trump’s lawyers’ motion Monday marks the first official filing they have made in the Georgia investigation.
The grand jury completed its work in January, submitting a report on its findings to Willis. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled last month that parts of the grand jury’s report can be made public. Willis’ office, however, had asked that the entire report remain under wraps for the time being.
In unsealed parts of the report released last month, grand jurors said they believe some witnesses may have lied under oath.
Among the incidents Willis reviewed is Trump’s January 2021 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he urged the state’s top election official to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state. “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump said in the call.
In her investigation, Willis also targeted nearly a dozen of Georgia’s “fake electors” in the 2020 presidential election in subpoenas issued last year to appear before the Fulton County special grand jury. After the 2020 election, certificates falsely purporting to come from Trump electors were sent to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., by Republicans in seven battleground states that Biden won — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. That effort was ultimately unsuccessful.
Rebecca Shabad and Rose Horowitch contributed.