By speaking out, could foreperson in Georgia Trump probe undermine a future case?
The foreperson of a special grand jury convened in Fulton County, Georgia, to examine possible election interference by former President Donald Trump and his allies embarked Tuesday on a media tour of sorts, where she publicly telegraphed some of her panel’s closely held findings.
In a series of print and television interviews, jury foreperson Emily Kohrs revealed that jurors recommended charges for several individuals, without naming any of them — and intimated that the former president is among them.
“You’re not going to be shocked,” Kohrs told The New York Times about whether her panel recommended charges against Trump. “It’s not rocket science.”
The special grand jury has the power to recommend charges, but not issue them. Should the panel’s already-submitted final report recommend charges, it would then be up to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who launched the criminal probe in February 2021, to determine whether or not to pursue them.
Legal experts tell ABC News that Kohrs’ remarks, which quickly ricocheted across cable news and the internet, could complicate any future cases and, more broadly, undermine the public’s confidence in the criminal justice process.
“She shouldn’t be doing this,” Dan Abrams, ABC News’ chief legal analyst, said of Kohrs’ public comments. “It isn’t helpful to the perception of the objectivity of the criminal justice system, and it starts to feel like she’s putting pressure on the district attorney to actually move forward with charges.”
Kohrs appears to have stopped short of explicitly violating the special grand jury’s charter, which mandates that jurors refrain from publicly discussing their secret deliberations.
But experts agreed that her public remarks could be cited in future litigation, possibly as evidence of bias in a motion to dismiss a case, or in a motion to change venues.
Trump’s legal team has been monitoring Kohrs’ comments in the press and has already begun weighing options if charges against him are brought, sources told ABC News.
Trump himself slammed Kohrs on his Truth Social platform early Wednesday, citing her comments as evidence of “an illegal Kangaroo Court” and a “continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt of all time.”
Fulton County Judge Robert McBurney disbanded the jury after it submitted its report last month. He did not bar jurors from speaking publicly about the excerpts of the report that were made public, but restricted them from sharing details about their deliberations, leaving Kohrs’ remarks a matter of bad optics, experts said.
“Not smart but not illegal,” Harry Litman, a former senior Justice Department official wrote on Twitter. “Of course, her 15 minute [public relations] tour could be bad for the case and give rise to defense motions.”
McBurney’s office declined to comment to ABC News, and neither Kohrs nor a spokesperson for Willis’ office responded to a request for comment.
The grand jury was seated last May as part of Willis’ criminal probe into allegations of election interference, which was sparked in part by the now-infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump pleaded with Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” the exact number Trump needed to win the state. Trump has repeatedly defended his call to Raffensperger, calling it “perfect.”
Jurors “received evidence from or involving 75 witnesses” over the course of its monthslong probe into the matter, and delivered their final report in January. Earlier this month, Judge McBurney ordered the release of portions of that report, which revealed little about the grand jury’s findings as Willis continues her investigation and weighs charging decisions.
The specific charging recommendations are “for the District Attorney’s eyes only — for now,” McBurney ordered.
Excerpts from the report also revealed that “a majority of the grand jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it,” and that “the Grand Jury recommends that the District Attorney seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling.”
Trump reacted to the excerpts of the report by claiming “total exoneration” and thanking the grand jury for its work. When reporters for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shared that response with Kohrs, she rolled her eyes then burst out laughing, according to the outlet.
“Did he really say that?” she reportedly asked. “Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s phenomenal. I love it.”
Experts have also raised concerns about Kohrs’ personal safety as a consequence of her remarks. Vocal critics of the former president and whistleblowers from within his administration have repeatedly faced threats of violence and worse, prompting concerns that Kohrs has put herself in harm’s way.
“Really hope someone is advising Emily Kohrs on safety & security precautions for her own well-being,” posted Olivia Troye, a former Trump-era White House official who has been critical of the former president. “Also really hoping that her decision to go public … about one of the most significant cases for our country, doesn’t hurt the outcome in the end.”
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