March 23, 2023

Following the pushback the foreperson of the Georgia special grand jury received after giving several high profile interviews, the judge overseeing the case clarified that jurors “can talk about the final report.”

Judge Robert C. McBurney told ABC News on Monday that the interviews can get “problematic” if jurors start to “synthesize the testimony” or other juror’s thoughts or deliberations on it. But he emphasized that “it’s important for people to understand that witness testimony is not deliberations.”

“You don’t talk about what the group discussed about the witnesses’ testimony, but you can talk about witness testimony,” McBurney told ABC News. “You could talk about things that the assistant district attorneys told you. … And then finally, you can talk about the final report because that is the product of your deliberations, but it’s not your deliberations.”

The judge’s reminder comes after the grand jury foreperson, Emily Kohrs, gave interviews to several news outlets last week about her experience on the grand jury looking at former President Donald Trump and his allies’ efforts to unlawfully interfere in the state’s 2020 election results. Kohrs shared personal insights with reporters about the testimonies of some key Trump allies and confirmed the grand jury recommended indictments against multiple people involved.

Kohrs’ comments sparked criticism. Legal experts and many in the media warned that the press tour could jeopardize the investigation. 

Trump lawyers seized on the blowback over the weekend, claiming that the investigation “has been compromised” by Kohrs’ interviews and arguing that “if any indictments were to come down, those are faulty indictments.”

McBurney declined to say if he saw anything in Kohrs’ interviews that overstepped his guidance or her oath, according to ABC News.

But he did push back on the critics with a stern reminder that the jury’s final report is simply a recommendation.

“This grand jury’s sole role was to prepare a report that was merely a set of recommendations for the district attorney — full stop. Nothing more,” McBurney told ABC News. “And so folks should think long and hard about what impact, at all, this special purpose grand jury’s work would have should there be an indictment down the road.”

“This grand jury could not and did not bring charges against anyone,” Judge McBurney added.

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