Kemp blasts Fulton DA’s office for playing politics as he fights subpoena

Short of overturning the subpoena, the motion asks that Kemp’s testimony be postponed until late 2022 or early 2023, and that the court set parameters for the questioning.

“For more than a year, the Governor’s team has continuously expressed its desire to provide a full account of its very limited role in matters considered by the special grand jury,” a spokesperson for the Governor’s office said. in a written statement. “We are now weeks away from the 2022 general election, which makes it increasingly difficult to devote the time needed to prepare and then appear.”

The prosecutor’s office did not immediately comment on the case.

The motion threatens to further politicize an investigation that has become more and more combative those last weeks.

The document details nearly 16 months of back and forth between prosecutors and Kemp staff beginning in April 2021 as they sought to make arrangements for the governor’s testimony.

Kemp’s attorney was willing to engage and inquired frequently about interview dates, according to McEvoy. But many of their communications were met with silence from the prosecutor’s office, he wrote.

More than a year later, the two sides agreed to a July 25 date for Kemp to answer prosecutors’ questions under oath. But that video appearance was abruptly called off, McEvoy said, after prosecutors appeared to change their minds about a pre-interview meeting known as a lawyer offering to lay out the scope of the testimony. of the Governor and to address issues of evidence and privilege.

Kemp was subpoenaed soon after, according to McEvoy.

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The governor’s office said it voluntarily produced some 137,000 pages of evidence — more than 40 bankers’ boxes — for prosecutors in July and August.

This followed an initial subpoena for documents, on which the AJC Previously reported. But the subsequent subpoena for Kemp’s testimony had not been made public.

Earlier this summer, the grand jury asked the governor’s office for anything that “represents, explains, and provides context” about the November 2020 election and the 60 days since, Georgia’s presidential voter certification on January 6 and the rally held at the Capitol that day. Jurors also searched for any documents shedding light on what then-President Donald Trump and his associates were thinking and doing as they sought to reverse Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia, including phone logs , e-mails, SMS and other correspondence.

In the motion to quash, McEvoy accused Fulton’s prosecutors of slowing Kemp’s testimony and criticized the subpoena for the purpose of politicizing the governor’s testimony in the final months of his re-election bid. Fulton DA Fani Willis is a Democrat.

“Here, the timing of the subpoena in relation to the undue delay of investigation reveals, at best, disregard for an unnecessary risk to the political process, and at worst, an attempt to influence the election cycle of November 2022,” the motion reads.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks with the media following a crime and public safety summit at Atlanta Metropolitan College on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks with the media following a crime and public safety summit at Atlanta Metropolitan College on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks with the media following a crime and public safety summit at Atlanta Metropolitan College on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Kemp is a key witness in the prosecutor’s sprawling investigation.

In the two months since the 2020 election, the governor has come under relentless public and private pressure from Trump.

Kemp rejected the president’s repeated demands to illegally call a special session of the state legislature to undo Biden’s victory.

As a result, Trump lambasted Kemp at rallies and other public events, saying he was “ashamed” to have endorsed him in 2018. Trump recruited former U.S. Senator David Perdue to lead an ultimately unsuccessful primary challenge against the governor and used his PAC to spend millions on attack ads.

Throughout, Kemp said state law prevented him from “interfering” with elections and that changing election laws ahead of the Georgia Senate runoff in January 2021 would have prompted “Endless litigation.”

The details of Kemp’s behind-the-scenes interactions with Trump, however, are largely unknown. And unlike the January 2, 2021 phone call between the President and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, there are no known records of their conversations.

Kemp’s grand jury testimony could shed new light on Trump’s efforts — and could prove crucial for jurors and prosecutors.

Kemp’s filing argues that because of sovereign immunity, the governor cannot be compelled to testify in court about acts undertaken in the course of his official duties without waiver.

He is not the only investigative witness to cite the doctrine. A similar claim by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., was rejected by a federal judge earlier this week. But Kemp aides believe sovereign immunity has stronger legal protections at the state level.

The governor’s motion also argues that “large swaths of information” that the prosecutor’s office might want to discuss are protected because of executive and attorney-client privilege. This includes documents related to Kemp’s deliberative process and internal communications with its advisors.

“Unsurprisingly, the governor’s decision-making before, during and after the November 2020 election relied heavily on communications with his advisers and the notes and drafts he prepared,” the motion reads. “All of these documents, as well as testimony about them, are protected from disclosure under executive privilege.”

If Kemp’s subpoena isn’t ultimately overturned, McEvoy asks McBurney to take a similar approach to what he did with Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and state legislators who had been subpoenaed by the grand jury earlier this summer. After the group cited statutory immunity, McBurney denied their request to kill their subpoenas, but set guidelines for the types of questions prosecutors would be allowed and barred.

It is rare for a sitting governor to be subpoenaed, especially for a grand jury investigation. The Fulton investigation, however, resulted in summonses for the state’s top four lawmakers, including Duncan, Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr. The latter two have not publicly fought their subpoenas.

Neither McBurney nor U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May, who heard challenges from Graham and Georgian Congressman Jody Hicehave revoked all subpoenas to date.

McBurney recently pushed back an attempt by Trump’s former personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to delay his testimony due to recent surgery, stating from the bench that the order of testimony is important to the work of the grand jury.

But he and May have acknowledged various privileges granted to witnesses and have repeatedly prescribed that prosecutors develop a framework for questions with public officials’ attorneys before they are questioned.

This isn’t the first time Willis has been accused of playing politics.

Lawyers for a majority of the 16 Georgia Republicans who served as ‘surrogate’ voters for Trump and were told they were targets of the Fulton Inquiry, have made similar criticisms to AD. One of those voters, GOP lieutenant governor nominee Burt Jones, with success argued before McBurney that Willis had a conflict of interest.

Some Republicans have also started to discuss a recall effort against Willis, though that’s considered a long shot given Georgia’s strict rules for such ballot initiatives.

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