Georgia prosecutor wants to disqualify ‘fake voter’ lawyer in Trump probe

ATLANTA — An Atlanta district attorney investigating whether former President Donald Trump and his allies broke the law when they tried to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia has asked a judge to disqualify a lawyer representing some of the Republican “phony voters,” signed affidavits falsely stating that Trump had won the Georgia election, alleging that the attorney failed to tell her clients that they had been offered immunity deals in the case.

In a court filing filed Tuesday, Fulton County District Attorney Fannie T. Willis (D) asked that attorney Kimberly Borrows Debrow, who represents 10 of the Republican alternative voters, be disbarred from “any further involvement” in the case. Prosecutors say Debrow committed an ethical violation by representing so many clients at once — including constituents who “brought adverse claims” against other constituents Debrow represented, which prosecutors say is a clear conflict of interest.

On June 21, the Jan. 6 committee outlined a plan it said was backed by President Donald Trump to undo the 2020 election. (Video: Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

The document cites interviews conducted by Fulton County prosecutors on April 12 and 14 with some of the constituents represented by Debrow, which Debrow attended.

“During these interviews, some of the constituents stated that another constituent represented by Ms. Debrow had committed acts that were violations of Georgia law and that they were not a party to these additional acts,” the filing states . “Additionally, in these interviews, some of the constituents represented by Ms. Debrow told members of the investigative team that they were never offered a potential offer of immunity in 2022.”

Prosecutors say those allegations are in “direct conflict” with statements made in court last year by attorney Holly Pearson, who previously served as Debrow’s co-defendant in the case. Pearson told a judge they informed their clients of immunity offers made by Willis’ office while prosecutors sought their testimony before a special purpose grand jury formed to investigate alleged interference in the 2020 election.

Debrow did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pearson — who now represents just one constituent, Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shaffer — said the prosecution’s allegations are “absolutely false” and that the court “already has documents … that prove the prosecution’s allegations are false.”

“Unfortunately, the DA’s office continues to appear more interested in media attention, trampling on the constitutional rights of innocent citizens and recklessly defaming its perceived opponents than in facts, the law or the truth,” Pearson said in an email.

The proposal comes as Willis signaled he was close to announcing his decision on whether to press charges in the high-stakes investigation that has ensnared not only Trump and some of his closest aides and allies, but also a number of prominent Republicans, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator Lindsay O. Graham (RS.C.) and several top Georgia officials, including Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who have been targets of Trump’s lobbying efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s narrow victory in the state.

Willis, a longtime Fulton County prosecutor who was elected district attorney in 2020, began her investigation into alleged election interference just days after a recording of a January 2021 phone call Trump had with the secretary of state was released of Georgia Brad Raffensperger, urging him to “find” enough votes to overturn Trump’s defeat in Georgia.

It was one of several calls Trump and his aides made to officials in Georgia, urging them to launch efforts to change the results of the state’s presidential election, which Trump lost by less than 12,000 votes.

But Willis has indicated publicly and in court filings that her office’s investigation has expanded to include several other lines of inquiry, including false allegations of election fraud that Giuliani and other Trump associates made to Georgia state lawmakers; threats and harassment directed at election workers in Georgia; and the alternative Republican voters.

Willis and her team are said to be scrutinizing not only Trump’s phone calls, but also what knowledge he had and the role he played in the effort involving these fraudulent voters. Willis indicated he is monitoring Georgia’s extensive anti-racketeering law as he considers whether Trump and his allies conspired to violate the law by trying to overturn the state’s election results.

Willis told The Washington Post last year that she and other prosecutors had heard credible allegations that serious crimes had been committed and that she believed some people could face prison terms.

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. This list includes Giuliani and the list of 16 alternative Republican electors.

Last year, Willis requested the testimony of those voters before a special grand jury, but only one is known to have been among the 75 witnesses who appeared before the panel.

Last year, prosecutors fought to prevent Pearson and Debrow from jointly representing 11 of those GOP voters, describing it as a legal and ethical violation.

In November, Judge Robert McBurney, who presided over the special grand jury, ruled that Shaffer could not share an attorney with the other 10 constituents represented by Pearson and Debrow. At the time, Pearson took on Shaffer’s case while Debrow represented the other group.

Legal fees for Shaffer and the 10 constituents are being paid by the Georgia Republican Party.

Willis’ statement Tuesday indicated that some of those constituents who were reluctant to testify in the case may now be cooperating with the investigation — though it was not immediately clear whether that was because they were granted immunity or someone provided information outside of interviews with prosecutors.

A spokesman for Willis declined to comment.

The special grand jury was dissolved in January after issuing a final report of its findings. That report remains largely sealed to protect the rights of “potential future defendants,” according to McBurney.

But Emily Kors, the presiding judge, said the grand jury recommended indicting several people. She declined to say whether Trump was among them — citing McBurney’s instruction that grand jury deliberations remain private until prosecutors decide whether to file charges — but also told reporters that the public would not be “shocked” by the recommendations of panel given news of the case.

Last month, Trump’s Georgia-based legal team — Drew Findling, Jennifer Little and Marissa Goldberg — took advantage of Kors’ public comments about the grand jury proceedings as they filed a motion to quash the panel’s report and block prosecutors from using any evidence gathered during the investigation. They argued the panel was “unconstitutional” and violated Trump’s due process rights.

Trump’s lawyers also tried to remove Willis and her office from the case along with McBurney — suggesting he gave bad advice to the grand jury. McBurney, who continues to oversee the case, ordered prosecutors to file a response with Trump’s legal team by May 1.

Willis has said little publicly about her timetable for a possible lawsuit. In January, Willis told McBurney during a court hearing that charging decisions were “imminent,” but she later clarified to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter that did not necessarily mean she would announce those decisions anytime soon.

Tuesday’s statement indicated that the investigation into Willis remains active, and a source close to the case said prosecutors continue to review evidence as Willis nears his public announcement of potential charges.

To be indicted, Willis will have to present his case to a regular grand jury, which, unlike a special grand jury, has the power to bring criminal charges. In Fulton County, grand jury terms begin every two months. The next panels are scheduled to start in the first week of May.

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