WASHINGTON — A Georgia judge heard arguments Thursday in GOP Gov. Brian Kemp's effort to quash a subpoena asking him to testify before a grand jury investigating attempts to influence the 2020 election.
Arguments from both Kemp's legal team and lawyers from the Fulton County district attorney's office lasted two hours. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney announced the hearing last week after officials with the state attorney general's office, representing Kemp, filed a motion asking him to throw out the subpoena.
Lawyers from Attorney General Chris Carr's office reiterated their arguments Thursday asserting executive and attorney-client privilege. Carr alleged in a legal filing last week that District Attorney Fani Willis is pursuing Kemp’s testimony for improper political purposes. He also said Kemp’s testimony could wait until after Election Day in November, given that the investigation is about the 2020 election and not the upcoming one.
Kemp's lawyers repeated Thursday that they want to delay his testimony until after the election and said he shouldn't have to "suffer consequences" politically for invoking his right to try to quash the subpoena.
At the end of the hearing, McBurney said he would consider the “political impact” of Kemp’s situation on his re-election race as he weighs the motion to revoke the subpoena. He suggested that if he allows the district attorney’s office to speak to Kemp before the election, he will share his thoughts then about the timing of the appearance.
In an exchange with the district attorney's lawyers, McBurney also said he hasn't seen any evidence that suggests Kemp is anything but a witness in the investigation and that he is a "subject, not target."
Ahead of the hearing, Kemp's office said he had already expressed a willingness to cooperate with the investigation and to "provide a full accounting of his very limited role in the issues being looked at by the special grand jury." But because the November elections are approaching, the statement said, the office didn't have the "time necessary to prepare and then appear" to provide testimony, and it asked McBurney to allow Kemp to appear after the election.
In his legal filing last week, Carr argued that because the grand jury was authorized through next May, the "conclusion of the investigation before the November 2022 election is unnecessary.” He added, “Furthermore, such an unrealistic and unnecessary timeline is discouraged by prosecutorial ethical standards since the integrity of the 2022 election is not at issue."