Monday, September 25, 2023

Donald Trump Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Donald Trump Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

A Georgia state judge on Monday rejected former President Donald Trump’s bid to halt Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ grand jury investigation into his efforts to challenge the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.

Fulton County Superior Judge Robert McBurney, who has provided oversight for Willis’ probe for more than a year, stated in a lengthy ruling that Trump and his legal team can’t do anything to quash the probe since he has not been charged.

“[W]hile being the subject (or even target) of a highly publicized criminal investigation is likely an unwelcome and unpleasant experience, no court ever has held that that status alone provides a basis for the courts to interfere with or halt the investigation,” McBurney wrote.

Willis recently indicated that she will have finalized a decision about potential criminal charges within a month. McBurney noted that whenever she elects to do so will be the appropriate time for Trump to legally refute the proceedings that led to hypothetical charges.

“Guessing at what that picture might look like before the investigative dots are connected may be a popular game for the media and blogosphere, but it is not a proper role for the courts and formal legal argumentation,” he wrote.

In a footnote, the judge observed the ex-president’s attempts to turn his legal woes “into golden political capital, making it seem more providential than problematic,” a la “Rumpelstiltskin.”

“While both sides have done enough talking, posting, tweeting (“X’ing”?), and press conferencing to have hit (and perhaps stretched) the bounds of Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct … neither movant has pointed to any averments from the District Attorney or her team of lawyers expressing belief that Trump … is guilty or has committed this or that offense,” the judge wrote.

Though the judge acknowledged the potential for a wrongful indictment to evince reputational damage, writing that “a wrongful indictment is no laughing matter; often it works grievous, irreparable injury to the person indicted,” Trump’s “overwrought accusations of prosecutorial overreach and judicial error do not suffice to show that there is significant risk of ‘wrongful’ indictment.”

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Georgie State University Law Prof. Anthony Michael Kreis noted that McBurney is typically “unflappable and exceedingly careful with his orders” but the ruling shows he “is obviously disgruntled with Team Trump’s baseless claims.”

Kreis also underscored another footnote to show how “displeased” the judge is with Trump’s lawyers, in which McBurney candidly advised Trump’s legal team, writing, “In the future, counsel is encouraged to follow the professional standard of inquiring with chamber’s staff about timing and deadlines before burdening other courts with unnecessary and unfounded legal findings.”

“Is Trump tired of losing yet?” tweeted former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks.

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about Fani Willis’ probe


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