Excerpts will include jury concerns that witnesses may ‘have lied under oath’.
An Atlanta judge on Monday said he would make public excerpts of a report written by the special grand jury that investigated former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.
In a written order, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said some excerpts of the report are “ripe for publication” and would be made public on Feb. 16. The excerpts that will be made public include a section in which “the special purpose grand jury discusses its concern that some witnesses may have lied under oath,” according to the judge’s order.
“[W]hile publication may not be convenient for the pacing of the District Attorney’s investigation, the compelling public interest in these proceedings and the unquestionable value and importance of transparency require their release,” the judge said.
President Biden defeated Mr. Trump in Georgia by about 12,000 votes out of about five million cast in 2020, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1992. Two statewide recounts and a partial forensic audit, all conducted by the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, confirmed Mr. Biden’s narrow victory. Legal challenges to the outcome failed.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened an investigation in early 2021 into efforts to influence the state’s election results. Among other matters, Ms. Willis investigated phone calls Mr. Trump and his allies made to Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, in the weeks after the November 2020 election. In a recorded Jan. 2, 2021, call, Mr. Trump said to Mr. Raffensperger, “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” the number necessary to convert his defeat in the state into a victory.
Mr. Trump has denounced the Fulton County probe as a witch hunt and has said his phone call to Mr. Raffensperger was perfect. A lawyer representing Mr. Trump on the matter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Judge McBurney’s ruling.
In Monday’s order, Judge McBurney declined to make public the entire grand-jury report at this time, saying that would be unfair to individuals accused of wrongdoing who haven’t been afforded an opportunity to defend themselves. The judge didn’t provide specifics on whether the special grand jury found alleged crimes were committed.
The special grand jury was assembled at the request of Ms. Willis, the state prosecutor in Atlanta leading the investigation into Mr. Trump and his allies. Ms. Willis said in a statement on Monday that Judge McBurney’s order was “legally sound” and that she had no plans to appeal the ruling.
Under Georgia law, the special grand jury lacked the authority to issue indictments. But it was empowered to issue a report that recommended criminal charges. Ms. Willis could use the report to secure criminal indictments from a traditional grand jury.
In January, the citizens sitting on the grand jury issued their final report and voted in favor of releasing it to the public. Judge McBurney, who oversaw the grand jury’s work, held arguments last month on whether to publicly release the report.
A coalition of media companies, including The Wall Street Journal’s parent company Dow Jones & Co., argued in favor of immediate disclosure of the entire report.
Ms. Willis last month urged Judge McBurney to hold off on publicly releasing the document, saying doing so at this time would undermine her office’s investigation. Ms. Willis, who spoke at the court hearing, said charging decisions from her office were imminent.
The Fulton County probe expanded to include GOP officials’ creating a slate of presidential electors pledged to Mr. Trump in Georgia, even though he had lost the state. These 16 alternate electors met in December 2020 to sign certificates declaring themselves the state’s legitimate electors.
Ms. Willis’s probe is separate from the federal investigations, headed by special counsel Jack Smith, into the handling of classified documents at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and broader efforts by Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn his 2020 election loss.
Ms. Willis prevailed in several court cases brought by Trump allies trying to avoid testifying before the special grand jury. Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) both appeared before the grand jury in late 2022. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a longtime legal adviser to Mr. Trump, also testified before the special grand jury for several hours in August.