More Legal Trouble Brewing In Georgia For Donald Trump Amid Potential New York Indictment

Donald Trump believes that he will be arrested on Tuesday, March 21, posting the prediction on his Truth Social account and calling for protests. A spokesperson for Trump denied they'd heard from the Manhattan District Attorney's office on any specific dates or any specific charges, according to ABC News

The potential arrest surrounds accusations of hush money paid to Stormy Daniels via former Trump lawyer and now key witness for the DA's office, Michael Cohen. Daniels allegedly had an affair with Trump, and she was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about it in the run up to the 2016 presidential election, as reported by The New York Times. Cohen was the one who made the payments to Daniels, and he additionally arranged for payment to Karen McDougal to keep her quiet (McDougal has also said she'd had an affair with Trump).  

By 2018, Cohen ended up pleading guilty to charges including tax evasion and campaign finance violations, and in the same year, Trump denied knowing anything about the Daniels payment. Five years later, a grand jury has now heard evidence about the Daniels payment and Trump's role in potentially illegally covering it up. But for all the drama playing out in New York City, that's not the only place where Trump is facing legal trouble — he's in hot water down in Georgia, too. 

Donald Trump's lawyers want special grand jury report thrown out

A special purpose grand jury was called in Fulton County, Georgia in 2022 to look at evidence of Donald Trump's involvement in election tampering in Georgia during the 2020 election, including calls Trump made to Georgia officials — purportedly to pressure them into altering election results — and a plot to get alternate, Trump-supporting electors to certify the state's vote. And while the special purpose grand jury has wrapped up, Trump's lawyers are trying to get their report tossed. His lawyers filed a motion on March 20, 2023 to "quash the special purpose grand jury report," as well as prevent any evidence from the special grand jury to be used by law enforcement — as in no one could get arrested based on any of it — and for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to be "disqualified from any further involvement in this matter."

A special purpose grand jury can deliberate on evidence and recommend charges in a report. If any indictments are to be made based on the special purpose grand jury report recommendations, the DA's office must first go before a regular grand jury, according to AP News. If Trump's lawyers want the special purpose grand jury report "quashed," it would seem there might be something of concern within it for their client. The report was finalized in January 2023, per ABC News.

Trump's lawyers took issue with the District Attorney and judge overseeing the special grand jury

Part of the argument in the 483-page filing by Donald Trump's lawyers to toss the special purpose grand jury report centers around the media appearances by the special purpose grand jury foreperson, Emily Kohrs, in which she talked about the experience, saying that her comments would "taint any future grand jury pool." Judge Robert C. McBurney told ABC News that the jurors weren't allowed to talk about their deliberations, but that they "can talk about witness testimony, [...] about things that the assistant district attorneys told you, [and] about the final report because that is the product of your deliberations, but it's not your deliberations." In an interview with CNN, Kohrs didn't say whether they recommended charges against Trump, and that people "wouldn't be surprised" about those who the report lists as recommended for indictment.

Interviews by District Attorney Fanni Willis were a sticking point for Trump's lawyers as well, as "her social media activity [which] creates the appearance of impropriety compounding the necessity for disqualification." They don't seem to be fans of Judge McBurney either, saying he "made inappropriate and prejudicial comments relating to the conduct under investigation as well as potential witnesses invocation of the Fifth Amendment," and that "he improperly applied the law."

Parts of the special grand jury report have already been made public

In a February 16, 2023 order, parts of the special purpose grand jury report into whether or not Donald Trump and/or his allies tampered in the 2020 general election were made public. Over the course of about eight months, they heard from 75 witnesses, including Rudy Giuliani, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former national security advisor Michael Flynn, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Senator Lindsey Graham, per Newsweek. In the parts of the report that were made public, it confirmed the jury unanimously found "no widespread fraud" in the 2020 Georgia general election.

The report also recommended the publication of the report and noted that "a majority of the Grand Jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it. The Grand Jury recommends that the District Attorney seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling." The specific recommendations in regards to Trump, such as they might be, have not been made public. According to CNN, there's potential for Trump to be charged with "racketeering and conspiracy" in Georgia.