Members of the Fulton County, Georgia, special purpose grand jury that examined former president Donald Trump’s effort to overturn his 2020 election loss in the Peach State are free to discuss the contents of the grand jury’s final report so long as they avoid speaking about their own internal discussions.
Judge Robert McBurney on Monday told ABC News that the former grand jurors are free to “talk about the final report” but said it could be “problematic” if they inadvertently “synthesize the testimony” heard during the investigation and the internal discussions about that testimony, which under Georgia law cannot be disclosed.
He explained to the network that he spoke to grand jurors at a “farewell session” and "reminded them of their oath, which is a statutory obligation that they not discuss with anyone outside their group their deliberations – that's the one word that's in the oath”.
The matter of grand jury secrecy surrounding the Fulton County report came to public attention last week, when former grand jury foreperson Emily Kohrs went on a media tour in which she suggested that Mr Trump could be on a list of indictments recommended by the grand jury in its report to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
Most of the report itself remains under seal while Ms Willis decides whether to seek indictments from a regular grand jury, but Judge McBurney said Ms Kohrs didn’t violate any laws or court orders by discussing the report or testimony the grand jury heard.
"It's important for people to understand that witness testimony is not deliberations,” he said. "I explained you don't talk about what the group discussed about the witnesses' testimony, but you can talk about witness testimony — you could talk about things that the assistant district attorneys told you. ... And then finally, you can talk about the final report because that is the product of your deliberations, but it's not your deliberations".
Attorneys for the ex-president have claimed that Ms Kohrs’ statements to the press mean the probe "has been compromised" and "if any indictments were to come down, those are faulty indictments”.
But the Fulton County judge said the special grand jury’s role has nothing to do with whether another grand jury decides whether to issue indictments in the future.
"This grand jury's sole role was to prepare a report that was merely a set of recommendations for the district attorney -- full stop. Nothing more," he said. "And so folks should think long and hard about what impact, at all, this special purpose grand jury's work would have should there be an indictment down the road."
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