Wed. Mar 29th, 2023

A Georgia judge has denied Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s attempt to quash a subpoena for his testimony before a grand jury probing possible criminal interference in the 2020 election. 

Kemp’s attorneys argued that he was beyond the reach of a subpoena because a governor should be protected by sovereign immunity and expressed concerns about the timing of the subpoena ahead of Kemp’s reelection bid this fall. Kemp was issued a subpoena on Aug. 4, after a July interview was canceled. 

Superior Court of Fulton County Judge Robert McBurney did agree to delay Kemp’s testimony until sometime “soon” after the November 8 election. 

“Having considered the pleadings, oral arguments, and relevant case law, the Court finds that it it does not enjoy jurisdiction and that the subpoena should not be quashed; the motion is DENIED,” McBurney said in a Monday court order. “However, the Court will delay the Governor’s appearance before the special purpose grand jury until some date soon after the 8 November 2022 general election.” 

Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, said Monday at a news conference that the grand jury is about “60% through” the witnesses, and she added that she hopes by the end of the year, “I’ll be able to send the grand jury on their way.”
Willis also dismissed the idea that the investigation is “some political stunt” to “impact the election.” She pointed out that she did not call the first witnesses until the primaries had passed and said she’s made it “very well known to the judge” and to her team that she won’t pursue legal action until after the midterm elections.  

A spokesperson for the governor said he will work with authorities. 

“Judge McBurney acknowledged the potential political impact of the timing of these proceedings and correctly paused the Governor’s involvement until after the November election,” the spokesperson said. “Just as we have since April 2021, we will work with the DA’s office and the judge to ensure a full accounting of the Governor’s limited role in the issues being investigated is available to the special grand jury.”

Governor Governor Brian Kemp
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp speaks at a school event in McDonough, Ga., on July 29, 2022.

Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The grand jury is investigating whether former President Donald Trump and some of his allies attempted to alter the general election results in Georgia in 2020. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis launched the probe after she took office in January of last year, saying there was “information indicating a reasonable probability” that the election was “subject to possible criminal disruptions.” That investigation includes a January 2021 phone call between then-President Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump said, “I just want to find 11,780 votes.” Trump lost the election, but refused to admit it. 

Other high-profile politicos subpoenaed in the investigation include Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and Senator Linsey Graham of South Carolina. 

Kemp and Raffensperger drew Trump’s ire for insisting there was no mass fraud in the 2020 presidential election, and refusing to go along with the then-president’s efforts to sway the election results. 

— Sophie Reardon contributed to this report

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