Judge bars Georgia DA from subpoenaing Republican lawmaker in ongoing Trump election probe
In Fulton County, Georgia, which includes Atlanta, District Attorney Fani Willis has been conducting a thorough investigation of former President Donald Trump’s activities in her state following the 2020 presidential election. One of the Republicans Willis has been scrutinizing as part of her investigation is Georgia State Sen. Burt Jones, who promoted Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen from Trump in the Peach State. But on Monday, July 25, Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney barred Willis’ office from investigating Jones.
McBurney, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Tamar Hallerman, didn’t bar other prosecutors from probing Jones’ post-2020 election activities. But he did bar Willis’ office from doing the investigating.
“That means another set of prosecutors will determine whether to subpoena the Jackson Republican, whether to categorize him as a target of the investigation or whether any charges should ultimately be brought against him,” Hallerman reports.
McBurney wrote, “An investigation of this significance, garnering the public attention it necessarily does and touching so many political nerves in our society, cannot be burdened by legitimate doubts about the District Attorney’s motives. District Attorney does not have to be apolitical, but her investigations do.”
Jones is running for Georgia lieutenant governor in the 2022 midterms. Willis recently hosted a fundraiser for Charlie Bailey, Georgia’s Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. And McBurney agreed with Jones that Willis’ connection to Bailey was a conflict of interest that disqualified her office from investigating the state senator and candidate for Georgia lieutenant governor.
“Jones was one of 16 Republicans who served as ‘alternate’ electors for Trump in December 2020,” Hallerman reports. “All 16 were recently sent letters alerting them that they could be indicted, the DA’s office confirmed in a filing last week. During a hearing on Thursday, McBurney called the political optics of Willis’ fundraiser ‘horrific’ and worried they could undermine public confidence in the investigation. He wrote Monday that while Willis was within her rights as an elected official to sponsor a fundraiser, her decision ‘has consequences.’”
McBurney wrote, “This scenario creates a plain — and actual and untenable — conflict. Any decision the District Attorney makes about Senator Jones in connection with the grand jury investigation is necessarily infected by it.”
Georgia was among the states that Trump won in 2016 but lost to President Joe Biden in 2020. Trump, however, claimed, with zero evidence, that the election was stolen from him in Georgia. And Jones was among the Georgia Republicans who promoted Trump’s false claim.
But Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both conservative Republicans, maintained that Biden won Georgia fairly and refused to go along with the Big Lie — much to the chagrin of Trump, who has slammed both of them as RINOs: Republicans In Name Only.
Regardless, Kemp, who is running for reelection, has been performing well in polls against Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, who he narrowly defeated in 2016. A Cygnal poll released in late July found Kemp leading Abrams by 5 percent.
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