Guest: Attorney, legal columnist Keith Barber; Also: Why do Rightwingers suddenly give a damn about OH's toxic chemical train derailment?...
We didn't learn much. But we learned a little. And the evidence, as discussed on today's BradCast, suggests there is much more to come. [Audio link to full report follows this summary.]
On Monday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ordered the partial release of the final report by the Special Purpose Grand Jury convened by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis last year. She is probing whether or not Donald Trump and his allies unlawfully pressured Georgia officials to change the 2020 Presidential election results to declare him the winner, despite his having lost to Joe Biden by about 12,000 votes.
Today, about five pages from that report were released, including its introduction, conclusion, and one section finding that "A majority of the grand jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it."
After hearing "evidence from or involving 75 witnesses during the course" of their investigation, the 26-member panel (including three alternates) went on to recommend "the District Attorney seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling." They also determined "by a unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election."
The portions of their report released on Thursday did not include any specific names, however, out of concern by both Willis and McBurney, of "fairness" to any potential future defendants. During the hearing on whether to release the report partially, in full, or at all, back on January 24, Willis asked McBurney to temporarily withhold the report "in the interest of justice and the rights of, not the state, but others," as she explained that charging "decisions are imminent."
Based on court documents, witness statements and other information, the Special Grand Jury, which completed its work in December, was believed to be examining phone calls made by Trump and others to Georgia officials, such as the notorious one from January 2, 2021, in which Trump was famously heard threatened the state's Secretary of State and instructed him to "find" enough votes to flip the election from Biden to himself; the state's 16 fake Republican electors who falsely declared themselves "duly elected and qualified"; false allegations of fraud presented to state lawmakers by Rudy Giuliani and others; Attempts to pressure election workers into falsely confessing to fraud; and the unlawful, secret duplication of voting system software by GOP operatives in rural Coffee County, among other things.
We're joined today for insight and analysis by KEITH BARBER, attorney and legal commentator formerly known as "KeithDB" at Daily Kos, who now writes at Medium. He explains that it was actually remarks from Judge McBurney on Monday, when ordering the partial release of the Special Grand Jury report, that leads him to believe the panel's full report recommends indictment of our disgraced former President.
"The biggest hint that it likely includes Trump is in the judge's decision ordering the release. In that decision," Barber explains, "the judge expressed special concern for the due process rights of potential defendants who did nothave an opportunity to testify before the grand jury. And, as we know, a whole lot of people testified, including Rudy Giuliani, Lindsey Graham, and many more. The one who did not have an opportunity to testify, who was never asked to, is Donald Trump."
In fact, as Washington Post observes, "At least 18 people have been notified that they are targets of the election interference investigation, according to court documents and statements from their attorneys." Giuliani has said he is one of them. The 16 fake electors were reportedly told the same. Who might the 18th be? Well, while Trump's legal team in Georgia stated that their client was never invited to testify, they refused to comment when asked if he'd been given notice by Willis that he's a target.
Another curious point we also discuss is that, despite Judge McBurney describing the full report as including "a roster of who should (or should not) be indicted, and for what, in relation to the conduct (and aftermath) of the 2020 general election in Georgia," the report's conclusion is on a page that is numbered as "9". Barber observes that a separate Special Grand Jury Report from 2012 [PDF], out of the state's DeKalb County, recommended charges for just one person. But that report was 83 pages in length. What does that mean? We discuss.
One potential explanation for the apparently short report from Fulton County, as I note, is that those that the Grand Jury recommendations for indictment may be listed in an Appendix to their report, which may come on pages numbered after the report's "conclusion" section.
We read those tea leaves and many others today, including why Willis' "imminent" charging decisions may be taking a while to become indictments. We also discuss the delightfully fascinating data point that Georgia's state Constitution bars the Governor (currently, Republican Brian Kemp) from issuing pardons. Only a state commission appointed by the Governor may do so, but only after the perpetrator in question has completed their sentence. Given that Willis may be working toward invoking the state's expansive racketeering statutes in this case --- which can add many years to state sentences when defendants are found to have participated in a conspiracy --- that could result in very long, unpardonable prison sentences for Trump, Giuliani, the fake electors (which included both GA's current Lt. Governor and the state's Republican Party chair) among others.
Also today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on back-to-back disasters in New Zealand; more bad news for Antarctica's melting glaciers; and the bizarre flip of a switch that seems to have happened on Fox 'News' and (naturally) among Republicans regarding the horrific toxic chemical train derailment and explosion that happened about two weeks ago in East Palestine, Ohio.
Suddenly, they care about the health of nearby residents? The lack of regulations for the rail industry? (Which Trump rolled back after new rail safety rules were enacted by Obama, by the way.) They suddenly give a damn about the EPA not acting aggressively enough? Really? Well, not really, as we discuss before finishing off today with a few wise words on all of this from Trae Crowder, the Tennessee-born political comedian known as "the liberal redneck"...
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