Aug 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Brian Kemp delays subpoena in 2020 election probe, citing political motivations


Photo: Megan Varner/AP

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp won't have to appear in court Thursday, after he asked a judge to quash his subpoena by Atlanta prosecutors investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and accusing prosecutors of political motivations.

Why it matters: While Kemp famously resisted former President Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election, his attorneys on Wednesday accused the district attorney's office of using the investigation "as a sword to influence the 2022 election."

  • Whether Kemp will have to testify at all, however, remains undecided.

Driving the news: A spokesperson for the governor's office told Axios on Wednesday that Kemp "has been released from his obligation to appear pending Judge McBurney’s ruling on the motion to quash.”

  • A spokesperson for the district attorney's office told Axios the office plans to fight the request to quash the subpoena and will be filing a response.

What's happening: Kemp's attorneys explained in their filing that an original plan to submit recorded voluntary testimony via video was canceled by the district attorney's office late last month, following more than a year of correspondence. Kemp was instead subpoenaed to testify in person Thursday, the filing revealed.

  • Kemp's lawyer wrote that after seeking "certain protections" be put in place about the original video testimony, the district attorney's office canceled the voluntary interview.
  • Kemp's lawyers said the district attorney then refused their request to delay the testimony until after the election, which is why they're seeking to quash the subpoena altogether.

The big picture: The filing is the latest example of how the wide-reaching investigation into efforts to overturn Georgia's 2020 election results has grown politicized.

  • A judge already barred District Attorney Fani Willis from directly investigating one of the named targets because she had fundraised for his political opponent.

What they're saying: Kemp's attorneys wrote of the investigation: "Unfortunately, what began as an investigation into election interference has itself devolved into its own mechanism of election interference."

  • Attorneys wrote that the district attorney's office's actions amount to "at best, a disregard of an unnecessary risk to the political process, and at worst, an attempt to influence the November 2022 election cycle.

The other side: In an email to Kemp's attorney released in the filing, Willis wrote: "This is NOT a politically motivated investigation. It is a criminal investigation, and often at the end of criminal investigations, people are cleared and often they go to prison."

Of note: Kemp's office has produced 137,000 pages of documents to the district attorney's office following the subpoena, his attorneys outlined.

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