Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis argued on Tuesday not to release the full report from the special grand jury, saying that she doesn't want people who might be defendants to get an unfair trial by publishing the report. She told the judge that potential prosecutions were "imminent."
While arguing for holding back the report, Donald Wakeford, for the DA's office, explained that there were 75 witnesses and there is a concern for witness tampering and other possible things.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney debated with Wakeford about how it would be handled by the Justice Department and that the Jan. 6 committee were willing to make all of their findings public while handing that over to the DOJ. Wakeford argued that it's still unknown what the DOJ is doing and what isn't known because the DOJ operates under such secrecy.
Wakeford went on to tell Judge McBurney that he thinks the discussion about publishing the report should be considered after the DA's office has had an opportunity to announce whether or not there are charges being filed. He said that there would be a better "roadmap" to pursue publication at that point.
"Everything about the nature of this report indicates that it is premature to make that report public at this time. That is the strongest stance I will make before your honor at this time," said Wakeford.
Judge McBurney asked whether a juror would have the freedom to seek out the media and say that they're willing to say what is in the report.
"If they can disclose it why then can it not be generally disclosable?" the judge asked. He said that if he were to muzzle a juror he assumes it would be appealed on First Amendment grounds.
He explained that it shouldn't be a blanket decision that would be a decision "until the end of time." And an appeals court might see the case but by that time it likely would be publicized. Wakeford called it a "temporary ceiling." While the juror has freedom under the Constitution, he explained, so does the person being indicted.
Speaking for media organizations, lawyer Tom Clyde stood to say, "We ask that the report be released now and in its entirety."
He explained that the grand jury had been invoked by the statutes and that report is finalized, and jurors had asked that it be publicized.
He said that the Constitution and statutes all support releasing the report.
Clyde said that he understands and admires the argument that those who might be indicted should be protected. However, “this hearing was widely publicized and the lawyers of those other people aren’t here."
The reference was to former President Donald Trump, whose lawyers announced on Monday that they wouldn't be attending the hearing because Trump was never called in to testify before the special grand jury. Given that, the lawyers said that it's clear the grand jury believed he's innocent and there was no reason for them to be at the hearing.
"The grand jury compelled the testimony of dozens of other, often high-ranking, officials during the investigation, but never found it important to speak with the President. He was never subpoenaed nor asked to come in voluntarily by this grand jury or anyone in the Fulton County District Attorney's Office. Therefore, we can assume that the grand jury did their job and looked at the facts and the law, as we have, and concluded there were no violations of the law by President Trump," the statement said.
At the end of the court proceedings, Judge McBurney explained, "I will circle back and we'll figure out the best way to move forward with this."
Clyde did ask the judge about the possibility of an appeal.