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Monday, July 17, 2023

Georgia Supreme Court Rejects Trump Effort to Quash Investigation

Georgia Supreme Court Rejects Trump Effort to Quash Investigation

“With indictment decisions imminent, the court refused to scuttle an investigation into whether the former president and his allies interfered in the 2020 election.

Donald Trump stands behind a lectern while speaking into a microphone.
Former President Donald J. Trump addressed the crowd at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach, Fla., this month.Saul Martinez for The New York Times

ATLANTA — In a ruling on Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected a long-shot attempt by former President Donald J. Trump’s legal team to scuttle an investigation into election interference weeks before indictment decisions are expected.

The pronouncement from the court was both unanimous and swift, coming just three days after Mr. Trump’s lawyers submitted their filing. They had sought a court order that would throw out the work of a special grand jury in Atlanta and disqualify Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, from the proceedings. She has been the prosecutor in charge of the investigation into whether Mr. Trump and his allies interfered in the 2020 election in Georgia.

Most of the court’s nine justices were originally appointed by Republican governors; thus far, the case has played out in Superior Court in Atlanta.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers had conceded in their filing that they were up against long odds and had identified “no case in 40 years” where the court had intervened in the way they were seeking. In their ruling, the justices said the Trump team had “not shown that this case presents one of those extremely rare circumstances in which this court’s original jurisdiction should be invoked, and therefore, the petition is dismissed.”

They also said that Mr. Trump’s lawyers had not presented “either the facts or the law necessary to mandate Willis’s disqualification.”

Mr. Trump’s lawyers had previously sought to scuttle the investigation with a motion, filed in March, to quash much of the evidence that Ms. Willis’s team had collected since the investigation began in early 2021 and to take Ms. Willis off it. But the Superior Court judge handling the case, Robert C.I. McBurney, has yet to rule.

“Stranded between the supervising judge’s protected passivity and the district attorney’s looming indictment, petitioner has no meaningful option other than to seek this court’s intervention,” the lawyers wrote in their filing to the state’s high court on Friday.

The lawyers could not be reached immediately on Monday; the district attorney’s office had no immediate comment.

Ms. Willis has signaled that any indictments will come in the first half of August; she recently asked judges in a downtown Atlanta courthouse not to schedule trials for part of that time as she prepares to bring charges. The investigation has examined whether the former president and his allies illegally interfered in the 2020 election in Georgia, where Mr. Trump lost narrowly to Joe Biden.

The special grand jury heard evidence for roughly seven months and recommended indictments of more than a dozen people; its forewoman strongly hinted in an interview with The New York Times in February that Mr. Trump was among them. To bring any charges, Ms. Willis must now seek indictments from a regular grand jury.

Danny Hakim is an investigative reporter. He has been a European economics correspondent and bureau chief in Albany and Detroit. He was also a lead reporter on the team awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News. More about Danny Hakim

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