The judge bars the Fulton County prosecutor from questioning the GOP lawmaker about his role in trying to reverse Trump’s 2020 defeat in Georgia for hosting a fundraiser for his rival

A district judge has blocked Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from including Georgia’s Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in her grand jury investigation into former President Donald Trump’s push to reverse the state’s election results, ruling that her Campaigning on behalf of the candidate’s opponent created a conflict of interest.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference in Atlanta. (Photo: Facebook/Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.)

Willis led the investigation into Georgia’s fake presidential voters, who solemnly confirmed the 2020 election for Donald Trump despite losing the state’s vote.

In court filings, Willis alleges that 16 Republicans falsely signed instruments as Democratic President Joe on Dec. 14, 2020, claiming that the “duly elected and qualified electors for the President and Vice President of the United States of America are from the state of Georgia.” Biden had actually won the race and the electoral votes were cast by Democratic candidates that same day.

The court filing, first reported by Politico, is the district attorney’s response to one of the subjects of the investigation, former Georgia GOP state senator Burt Jones, who is running for lieutenant governor. Jones claims Willis targeted him because she supports his political opponent, and for doing so she should be barred from serving as legal counsel to the grand jury.

The “criminal” act came amid political chaos, with Trump claiming the election was stolen through widespread fraud in the state, prompting three recounts. The campaign of the former Republican president and his supporters embarked on a litigation warpath. The allegations also led to a revision of the state’s election laws by the Republican-led Legislature, signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

Willis argued in the July 19 document that Jones was no different from the other 15 electors named in the investigation. The group included Georgia Republican Party Chairman David J. Shafer, county-level GOP officials, another former state legislature, and local conservative activists.

“Jones is in a similar situation and was treated in the same way as each of the fifteen other unofficial ‘electors’ who presented themselves as properly certified voters for the 2020 presidential election and who received a similar target status notification,” Willis wrote.

Since Lt. gov. Geoff Duncan will not seek a second term, Jones will face Democratic opponent Charlie Bailey in November’s election. Willis is also a Democrat, but she argues that Jones “did not identify any personal interest” on her behalf that met the legal criteria for disqualification.

Jones also claimed that the special grand jury intends to release a report in October, just before the Nov. 8 election, but the prosecutor said she was “not aware of any such final timeline.” However, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney sided with Jones on July 25.

McBurney said Willis’s office could “question witnesses about the senator’s role in the Republican ruling party’s various efforts to challenge the legitimacy of the election results,” but she could not use the evidence to develop a case against Jones. The judge also questioned Willis’ decision to hold a fundraiser for Bailey.

Willis’ told CNN Monday that they are “reviewing the order and considering the course of action.” The Georgia State Attorneys Council has the option to select another district attorney’s office to question Jones under state law.

Willis launched the investigation to look into efforts by Trump and his allies to reverse the Georgia election results. It includes a review of Trump’s call to Georgia’s Foreign Minister Brad Ratffensperger asking him to “find” enough votes to overturn the election. She has reportedly subpoenaed US Reps. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.), state legislators, former New York Mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, and other Trump allies.

Trump has reportedly pushed GOP-led legislatures in at least seven states to nominate “alternative” voters alongside Democrats. The former president used the sham voters as proof of his stolen victory to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to delay the January 6, 2021 Congressional certification of the presidential votes. Pence had signaled in advance that he would not go along with the unconstitutional scheme. which reportedly led to the riot in the Capitol that day.

In another filing, the GOP election candidates invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. They claimed they were criminally targeted by witnesses as a “publicity stunt” in the investigation.

Georgia Republicans argued they were unaware of Trump’s plan and cast “conditional” ballots if a court ruling deemed them legitimate voters for Georgia.

“[T]Voters nominated were not and could not be involved in or aware of any such plan, as it was not even conceived until several weeks after GOP voters completed their contingent electoral lists on December 14, 2020,” attorneys for Republican nominees wrote : “And by no means was it disclosed or discussed with the nominee voters at any point.” The judge bars the Fulton County prosecutor from questioning the GOP lawmaker about his role in trying to reverse Trump’s 2020 defeat in Georgia for hosting a fundraiser for his rival

James Brien

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