Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp moves to quash subpoena in election probe
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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is seeking to dismiss a subpoena brought by the Fulton County District Attorney’s office regarding a grand jury’s investigation into former President Donald Trump’s behavior after losing the 2020 election. In court documents filed Wednesday, Kemp’s attorneys said the governor received a subpoena on Aug. 4 after a scheduled July interview was canceled.
Kemp’s attorneys argue the subpoena “is barred by sovereign immunity,” “improperly seeks to invade established common law executive and attorney-client privileges” and is being sought for “improper political purposes.”
Kemp was previously scheduled to provide the grand jury with recorded video testimony on July 25, but his attorneys said the district attorney’s office canceled the voluntary interview after the governor asked about the scope of it.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis began the investigation after she took office in January 2021. She asked a panel of judges that month for the special grand jury because of “information indicating a reasonable probability” that the election “was subject to possible criminal disruptions.” She also said in her request that the grand jury would be needed because “a significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony.”
Part of the investigation involves a January 2021 phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, during which the then-president said: “I just want to find 11,780 votes.” Trump lost the state to President Biden in the 2020 presidential election by that margin — an outcome that was affirmed by several recounts.
Raffensperger and several other top Georgia Republicans have already appeared before the special grand jury, which was selected in May.
The latest documents from Kemp’s attorneys stated that the subpoena from the district attorney’s office asked the court to subject the governor “to judicial process without the State’s consent” — something, Kemp’s attorneys argued, the court does not have the legal power to do.
Kemp’s lawyers also claimed the district attorney is seeking privileged information from the governor.
“Unsurprisingly, the Governor’s decision-making before, during and after the November 2020 election relied heavily on communications with his advisors and on notes and drafts that he prepared,” the documents state. “All of those materials, as well as testimony about them, are protected from disclosure under the executive privilege.”
The governor’s lawyers wrote that, because Kemp is not part of the investigation, the district attorney’s office must provide “a specific need for the privileged material.”
The court documents also claimed that the district attorney’s office has “already shown a disregard for attorney-client privileges,” and ask that if Kemp does testify, the district attorney’s office be barred from asking about information the governor discussed with his legal counsel.
Kemp’s attorneys also alleged that the subpoena could “influence the November 2022 election cycle,” and called its timing “suspect.”
Others subpoenaed in the investigation included former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani; South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham; campaign attorneys Cleta Mitchell, Kenneth Chesebro and Jenna Ellis; and GOP Rep. Jody Hice.