A Georgia state judge Monday held that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp must testify before a grand jury investigating possible 2020 election interference by former president Donald Trump and his allies. Because Kemp is running for reelection in the 2022 general election, the judge held that Kemp does not have to appear before the grand jury “until some date soon after” the November 8 elections.
The grand jury was first assembled by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis under an order from the Superior Court of Fulton County in January. The grand jury is examining “facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to possible attempts to disrupt the lawful administration of the 2020 elections in the State of Georgia.” The grand jury began its proceedings on May 2.
The grand jury subpoenaed Kemp on August 4. The date for Kemp’s appearance before the grand jury was changed at least once, and Kemp filed a motion to quash the subpoena the day before he was scheduled to appear. In his motion, Kemp argued he should not appear before the grand jury because he has sovereign immunity as governor, and the court lacks jurisdiction to enforce the subpoena.
The court ultimately upheld the subpoena. The court found that “sovereign immunity wards off civil actions, not criminal ones.” Because the grand jury is investigating potential recommendations for criminal charges, and not pursuing a civil action against Kemp as governor, the court characterized the grand jury proceedings as criminal. As a result, Kemp cannot claim sovereign immunity and must appear before the grand jury.
While the court found that Kemp must appear before the grand jury, they held that Willis’ questioning of Kemp must be limited. The grand jury cannot inquire into any attorney-client privileged material. The grand jury has also issued subpoenas to Trump’s former campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Trump lawyer John Eastman.