Gov. Brian Kemp is seeking to quash a subpoena to testify before the Fulton County special grand jury investigating attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
A motion state Attorney General Chris Carr filed Wednesday on Kemp’s behalf questioned the timing of the subpoena – in the midst of the governor’s reelection campaign – and maintained Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis has no legal right to force Kemp to testify.
“Georgia courts have no authority to compel a sitting governor to provide testimony about matters involving his ofﬁcial duties due to sovereign immunity,” Carr wrote.
“Even if that were not the centuries-old law of this state, the subpoena at issue is improper … because its timing is neither driven by a genuine investigative need for information nor compliant with the established ethical rules governing prosecutors and election cycle investigations.”
Unlike other Republican politicians the special grand jury has subpoenaed, Kemp did not try to cast doubt on Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia over then-GOP President Donald Trump. The governor refused to interfere with the election’s outcome, declaring he did not have the authority to do so.
Kemp had volunteered to testify to the panel late last month, Carr wrote in Wednesday’s motion. However, Willis canceled that session and subpoenaed Kemp instead after the governor asked “reasonable” questions concerning the scope of the testimony, the attorney general wrote.
“For more than a year, the governor’s team has continually expressed his desire to provide a full accounting of his very limited role in the issues being looked at by the special grand jury,” a Kemp spokesperson said Wednesday.
“We are now just weeks away from the 2022 general election making it increasingly difficult to dedicate the time necessary to prepare and then appear. With the special grand jury empaneled until May 2023, we are simply asking the judge to allow the governor to come in after the November election.”
Others who have fought subpoenas to appear before the special grand jury include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who as Trump’s personal lawyer raised questions about the legitimacy of the 2020 election in Georgia at several legislative hearings at the state Capitol. Giuliani lost his bid to avoid the panel and testified on Wednesday.
Lawyers for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also are fighting a subpoena from Willis. A federal judge ruled earlier this week that Graham must testify.
A spokesman for Willis said the district attorney would defer comment on Kemp’s motion until her office files its response.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.