Judge Overseeing Trump Grand Jury Speaks Out After Foreperson’s Controversial Interviews
A grand jury investigating the legality of former President Donald Trump’s push to overturn or invalidate the results of the 2020 election may have suffered a setback after the foreperson may have inappropriately disclosed sealed information in a round of weekend interviews.
On Monday, Fulton County, Georgia, Judge Robert C. McBurney, who is overseeing the case, told ABC News that jurors “can talk about the final report.”
However, the judge noted, the matter can get “problematic” if jurors “synthesize the testimony” and disclose discussion points and assessments.
ABC News reported that when the grand jury concluded their work in January, McBurney “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.”
McBurney emphasized that “it’s important for people to understand that witness testimony is not deliberations.”
The judge added: “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.”
Last weekend, however, the grand jury foreperson, Emily Kohrs, gave interviews to several news outlets and noted that the panel had recommended indictments against multiple people.
Kohrs indicated that several of those interviewed will likely be charged with perjury and disclosed details regarding testimony provided by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham and others.
Trump’s lawyers have issued grievances, arguing that the interviews compromised the work of the grand jury and that “if any indictments were to come down, those are faulty indictments.”
McBurney gently pushed back, noting that the special grand jury was essentially investigative and could not bring indictments. McBurney said:
“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. 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.”
McBurney added: “This grand jury could not and did not bring charges against anyone.”
McBurney did not specifically comment on Kohrs’ public interviews but did say:
“It’s just important not to apply the wrong standard to grand jurors in this jurisdiction. Their oath requires them to keep secret their deliberations, and it is a different oath than what federal grand jurors take.”