Georgia Gov. Kemp won’t have to testify to grand jury investigating 2020 election until after midterms
A judge has denied Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s attempt to quash a subpoena for his testimony before a special grand jury but agreed to delay Kemp’s appearance until after November’s midterm election.
Kemp, who was subpoenaed to testify as part of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ criminal investigation into the 2020 election, had argued that sovereign immunity protected him from having to appear before the grand jury – an argument Judge Robert McBurney, who is overseeing the special grand jury investigating efforts to subvert the 2020 election in Georgia, rejected on Monday.
“The Governor must honor the subpoena – as have the Secretary of State and the Attorney General and many other agents of the State in these criminal proceedings,” McBurney wrote in an order. “Sovereign immunity wards off civil actions, not criminal ones.”
But the interview can wait, he said.
“Remaining is the question of when the Governor will need to honor his subpoena,” McBurney wrote. “The answer is after the November 2022 general election. The Governor is in the midst of re-election campaign and this criminal grand jury investigation should not be used by the District Attorney, the Governor’s opponent, or the Governor himself to influence the outcome of that election.”
McBurney noted that “the Governor’s questioning will have limits” and said there would be issues of attorney-client privilege that would be off-limits to the grand jury and prosecutors.
McBurney also flicked at how testy negotiations between Kemp’s team and the district attorney’s office had become, writing, “this subpoena came only after weeks of tortured and tortuous negotiations over obtaining an interview with the Governor – the details of which do not bear repeating here, other than to note that both sides share responsibility for the torture and the tortuousness.”
McBurney also denied a motion to quash a subpoena for Trump campaign lawyer Kenneth Chesebro.
“There is no doubt that much of what Mr. Chesebro did for the Trump campaign is privileged,” the judge wrote in his order. “However, as the District Attorney has pointed out, there are also areas of interest to the special purpose grand jury that are not off-limits: Mr. Chesebro’s background and experience, his knowledge of both Georgia and federal election law, his communications with Republican party officials in Georgia following the 2020 general election, his interactions with the individuals in Georgia seeking to prepare slate of ‘alternate’ electors weeks after the final vote count showed former President Trump losing by over 10,000 votes in Georgia, etc. Because these are legitimate, relevant, non-protected areas of investigation for the special purpose grand jury, quashal is improper.”
McBurney instructed the district attorney’s office and Chesebro’s lawyers to sort out any questions that could run afoul of privilege or confidentiality issues ahead of his appearance.
According to previous court filings, Chesebro had been ordered to appear before the grand jury on August 30.