'Unusually Aggressive' Anti-Trump Grand Jury In Arizona Went Rogue With Indictments

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, May 13, 2024 - 09:45 AM

The Arizona grand jury that recently indicted 18 people for allegedly trying to help former President Donald Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election with so-called 'fake electors' went completely rogue and took 'aggressive steps to haul in witnesses,' to the point where they 'even brought charges against some' who were told by prosecutors that they weren't under investigation, Politico reports.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes (D)

Their efforts ultimately resulted in a 58-page indictment which has ensnared various national and state Republicans - including one of Trump's current top advisers, and several individuals who were previously in his orbit - with felony charges. Trump himself was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Documents reviewed by POLITICO reveal that at least two of the 18 people charged — former Trump lawyers Jenna Ellis and Christina Bobb — were assured by prosecutors that they were not targets of the probe, only to learn that the grand jury indicted them anyway. In fact, a letter that a prosecutor sent to Ellis just days before the indictment appeared to significantly understate her legal jeopardy.

One witness who testified before the grand jury said a faction of the panel drove intense questioning that exceeded the limited scope that prosecutors had publicly acknowledged. The probe was led by the office of Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes. -Politico

Mayes, a Democrat who replaced a Republican in January 2023, has been accused of politically motivated lawfare - however Politico's sources say that the grand jury was 'surprisingly independent' of her prosecutors - and 'sometimes even hard for them to predict.'

"The State Grand Jury was given leeway to conduct an independent investigation, as it is entitled to do by law," said Mayes' spox, Richie Taylor. "I cannot confirm or deny the specifics of grand jury proceedings, and I will note that the investigation remains open and ongoing. I will have to decline to comment further."

Grand juries are empowered to conduct their own lines of questioning in order to reach conclusions which may not necessarily align with the wishes of prosecutors - though they typically defer.

That said, in high-profile cases, they've been known to take on more independence.

"Every high-profile case that I’ve ever had, which is cases that have necessarily attendant publicity, or a public corruption case, or anything else, grand jurors become interested," according to former Arizona prosecutor, Paul Charlton.

Ultimately, the Arizona grand jury investigating the 2020 election indicted former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, and close Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn. It also indicted the 11 Arizona Republicans who falsely claimed to be the state’s rightful presidential electors.

Arizona is the fourth state — after Georgia, Michigan and Nevada — to bring criminal charges stemming from the efforts of Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 results in states that Biden won. At the federal level, special counsel Jack Smith has also charged Trump himself for the scheme. -Politico

"Not a target" (just kidding!)

Several months after former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis pleaded guilty in Georgia to helping Trump overturn the 2020 election, Mayes' prosecutors had questions - and asked her to appear for a so-called "free talk" interview.

"Ms. Ellis is not a target of the State’s investigation," a prosecutor in Mayes' office wrote to Ellis' attorney on Feb. 20, outlining terms for the interview.

On April 19, the same prosecutor followed up with another letter along the same lines - reiterating that Ellis was not a target.

The interview never happened, and Ellis was indicted anyway by the grand jury.

According to Phoenix criminal attorney Omer Gurion, this is unheard of.

"I have never seen anything like that in any Arizona criminal case that I can think of," he said. "Not one," adding that for a person to go from a "free talk" interview offer to indicted in just four days is "pretty unusual."

Former prosecutor Renato Mariotti agrees, telling Politico: "It’s bad form, and something I would never do as a prosecutor," adding "That said, I’ve practiced criminal law across this country and gone up against prosecutors of all stripes, and I’ve learned there are many prosecutors who do things I would not do."

"A Level Of Aggression That Caught Me Off Guard"

One of the witnesses interviewed by the grand jury told Politico that there was a serious difference between the tone set by prosecutors, and the grand jury. The witness, who received immunity, was told to expect around an hour of questioning over the boilerplate details of the probe.

Instead, he got a three-hour grilling that was 'sometimes pointed and accusatory.'

It was "a level of aggression that caught me off guard," said the witness -adding that one juror "seemed to be the leader of the ‘indict them all crowd’ and asked ‘pointed but specific questions.’"

Another juror, who made no effort to hide his political bias, asked "more high-level questions" such as "How could you even talk to these people? What were you thinking?"

Other jurors took a softer tone.

Another smaller faction of grand jurors consistently reframed the questions of the more aggressive jurors and seemed to be more skeptical of the angle they were taking, the witness recalled, noting that this group was visibly “rolling their eyes, heavy sighing, shifting uncomfortably.”

One grand juror also wanted to know what the witness could possibly have been thinking in the weeks after Trump’s defeat. The witness wasn’t a target but left the room surprised by the tenor of the grand jury’s questions and feeling like a “punching bag.”

And after the grilling was over, the witness said, a prosecutor offered a sheepish apology for its unexpected intensity. -Politico

According to the report, witnesses who plead the 5th are generally excused from appearing, but in this case, grand jurors insisted they appear in person to do so.