The judge who oversaw a special grand jury investigating efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia says he instructed jurors they were prevented from discussing deliberations but did not face restrictions in talking about the panel’s final report.
“The contents of the report are not deliberations,” Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney told CNN.
McBurney also said that the special grand jury, which has faced criticism from Trump and his legal team, did its job consistent with the rules governing special grand juries in the state.
“They complied with their charter,” he said.
The judge has ordered the contents of the panel’s final report, including recommendations about whether anyone should face indictments, to remain under seal. But he acknowledged that special grand jurors are not prevented from discussing their work product.
“What witnesses said, what you put in your report, those are not off-limits,” he added.
The report includes recommendations from the special grand jury about whether Trump or any of his associates should face criminal charges. The panel’s foreperson, Emily Kohrs, went on a media blitz this week, suggesting in interviews with CNN and other outlets that the special grand jury recommended more than a dozen indictments.
McBurney declined to comment on whether he believed Kohrs crossed a line about what special grand jurors were allowed to divulge during her media appearances.
“It’s not for me to assess,” the judge said.
McBurney, who previously spoke with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the instructions governing special grand jurors, elaborated on what constitutes deliberations. He noted that if a witness or prosecutor was present with the special grand jury, those discussions would be fair game for special grand jurors to discuss publicly.
“If someone is presenting or if a witness is testifying responding to questions from a prosecutor, or the district attorney is talking to the grand jury, that is not deliberations,” McBurney said.
While the special grand jury cannot issue indictments – and ultimately it will be up to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to determine if anyone should face charges – Kohrs’ media tour set off some backlash about the process, particularly from Trump’s attorneys.
“What we have seen over the past 48-hours proves that whatever conclusions were drawn were not the result of an analytical, trustworthy, or credible investigation as one would expect in a matter of historic proportion such as this,” Trump attorneys Drew Findling, Jennifer Little and Marissa Goldberg said in a statement this week.