Judge Rejects Trump’s Effort to Short-Circuit Georgia Election Case


A Georgia judge on Monday forcefully rejected an effort by former President Donald J. Trump to throw out evidence collected by a special grand jury and to remove the current prosecutor from the investigation into Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state.

Judge Robert C. I. McBurney of the Fulton County Superior Court wrote in a nine-page order that Mr. Trump did not have the legal standing to make such challenges before indictments were handed up. The judge said the “injuries” that Mr. Trump claimed to have suffered from the two-and-a-half-year investigation “are either insufficient or else speculative and unrealized.”

The order comes on the cusp of the investigation’s culmination. The office of the Fulton County district attorney, Fani T. Willis, a Democrat, is expected to present potential indictments in the matter to a regular grand jury by mid-August.

A “special purpose” grand jury, which did not have indictment power, interviewed dozens of witnesses and subpoenaed documents over the course of roughly seven months. Then, the jury issued an advisory report that recommended the indictment of a number of people for violations of Georgia laws, according to the jury forewoman.

The specifics of those recommendations have not yet been made public, although the forewoman, in an interview with The New York Times, strongly hinted that Mr. Trump was among those recommended for indictment.

Judge McBurney, in Monday’s ruling, seemed to have little patience for the arguments from Mr. Trump’s legal team, and he suggested that Mr. Trump’s lawyers were gumming up the legal process with frivolous filings.

“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 filings,” Judge McBurney wrote.

To the Trump team’s assertions that Mr. Trump would be injured by an indictment, Judge McBurney appeared to allude to the fund-raising that Mr. Trump’s campaign had done, highlighting the criminal cases against him.

“For some, being the subject of criminal investigation can, à 1a Rumpelstiltskin, be turned into golden political capital, making it seem more providential than problematic,” he wrote in a footnote. “Regardless, simply being the subject (or target) of an investigation does not yield standing to bring claim to halt that investigation in court.”

A representative for Ms. Willis’s office declined on Monday to comment on the judge’s ruling. Lawyers for Mr. Trump could not immediately be reached for comment.

Earlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously rejected a filing with a similar aim from Mr. Trump’s Georgia legal team. That filing argued, among other things, that the special grand jury’s proceedings were “blatantly unconstitutional” and that Ms. Willis had made biased public statements.

Mr. Trump’s challenge in superior court was joined by Cathy Latham, one of 16 Republicans who tried to cast bogus electoral college votes for Mr. Trump in December 2020, and who has been named as a target of the investigation by prosecutors. Judge McBurney also rejected Ms. Latham’s filing in his order on Monday.

In addition to finding that Mr. Trump’s and Ms. Latham’s challenges were premature, Judge McBurney pushed back against Mr. Trump’s contention that prosecutors had been improperly biased. The judge also appeared to criticize the former president for his attacks on Ms. Willis, who is Black, and whom Mr. Trump has called a “local racist Democrat district attorney” who is seeking to harm him politically.

“The drumbeat from the district attorney has been neither partisan (in the political sense) nor political, in marked and refreshing contrast to the stream of personal invective flowing from one of the movants,” the judge wrote.

A third challenge from Mr. Trump’s lawyers is set to be considered by a judge in Cobb County, Ga., in a hearing scheduled for Aug. 10. The matter was moved to the county, which is an Atlanta suburb, after the chief judge in Fulton County Superior Court ruled that he and his fellow Fulton County judges were recused from ruling on that motion. Judge McBurney wrote on Monday that the challenge in Cobb County should now be considered moot.


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