“It’s Gonna Be Massive.” More From The Fulton County Special Grand Jury
50 days ago today Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis told a judge that charging decisions were imminent in her investigation of election interference in Georgia. The grand jury had just dissolved and media companies sought the release of its report. The judge declined. About a month later, in mid-February, the judge partially released the report, but with the most interesting stuff, who it did or did not recommend for indictment, redacted.
A few days after that, the Special Grand Jury Foreperson, Emily Kohrs, did a breathless media tour. While she also avoided specifics she indicated the grand jury recommended many indictments and made comments (and reactions) suggesting that included Trump.
For almost a month it has been quiet, at least in public news. That changed a bit today with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) publishing a summary of interviews it conducted with five members of the grand jury. Once again, these grand jurors did not discuss who was, or was not, recommended for indictment. However, they did give insight into what they did and did not hear, and what it was like to sit on the grand jury. So let’s go.
- Security was tight. The jurors parked offsite and were taken in through underground tunnels via armored cars. A SWAT team was stationed in the hallways as they came in.
- They wanted to talk because they were concerned Kohrs created a false impression they did not take their work seriously. They most definitely did. They worked hard because it was “incredibly important to get it right.”
- Jurors were often emotionally impacted by stories from those whose lives were turned upside down by threats and other actions from Trump supporters. These included election workers Ruby Freeman and Shay Moss, along with Tricia Raffensperger, the wife of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
- They reported listening to a previously unreported tape of a call between Trump and Republican Speaker of the Georgia House David Ralston. In the call Trump asked Ralston to convene a special session to overturn the Georgia election results. Ralston replied, “I will do everything in my power that I think is appropriate.” No special session was called.
- The jurors were often frustrated by politician witnesses who would tell them under oath there was no election fraud, and then hours later be making public comments that there was.
- Jurors described three phases of witnesses. The first phase, early in their proceedings, were voluntary witnesses who willingly answered all questions. The second phase were witnesses who had to be subpoenaed, but once required to testify generally answered questions. The third phase, were witnesses who were subpoenaed but refused to answer questions, invoking the 5th Amendment.
- Jurors estimated about 10 of the 75 witnesses invoked the 5th and refused to answer any substantive questions. Some refused to even provide their educational background.
- They stated that Michael Flynn was one of the witnesses who invoked the 5th. Kohrs had previously identified White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuliani as refusing to answer questions.
- The jurors made clear that prosecutors strongly emphasized that they should NOT infer guilt because someone pled the 5th.
- The jurors emphasized that prosecutors did not attempt to influence their decision making. The prosecutors gave them a list of relevant laws, and the grand jury wrote the report itself taking about four days to do so.
- The jurors contradicted Kohrs claim that the jury considered, but decided not to bother, to subpoena Trump. These jurors made clear they never discussed the idea. Contacted about the contradiction Kohrs admitted they were probably right and she may have been confused.
- The jurors were all amazed at how free and fair the election system is. Quote: “I tell my wife if every person in America knew every single word of information we knew, this country would not be divided as it is right now.”
- The judge advised the jurors that they could publicly discuss witnesses, what prosecutors told them and what was in their final report. The only thing off limits was the substance of their deliberations.
- The final comment of one juror is the probably the biggest take away:
“A lot’s gonna come out sooner or later. And it’s gonna be massive. It’s gonna be massive.”