On Thursday, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp rejected calls for a special legislative session to punish Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for prosecuting the 2020 election interference case. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder
Gov. Brian Kemp chastised a lawmaker on Thursday for demanding a special state legislative session in order to impeach the Fulton County prosecutor leading a sweeping election collusion case against Donald Trump and his inner circle.
Kemp on Thursday joined state House Speaker Jon Burns on the list of Georgia GOP elected officials who have rejected Trenton Republican Sen. Colton Moore’s calls for a special session to punish Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for prosecuting the former president and 18 co-defendants on allegations that they illegally conspired to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia and several other states.
Holding a special session by the end of the year has always been a long shot that not only would require the governor’s support but it would have required three-fifths of both the House and Senate to sign on. Some of Georgia’s Democratic state lawmakers would have to go along with a proposed special session, making it a political non-starter.
Kemp cast Moore’s effort as misguided, comparing it to calls in 2020 to call a special session to overturn Trump’s narrow election loss to Democratic President Joe Biden, which Kemp also rejected.
“Fast forward to today, nearly three years later, memories are fading fast. There have been calls by one individual in the General Assembly and echoed outside of these walls by the former president for a special session that would ignore current Georgia law and directly interfere with the proceedings of a separate but equal branch of government.”
Moore has taken criticism for using language colleagues have characterized as inciting violence and posting contact information for Republicans who have spoken against his plan to call for a special session.
“We need to be taking action right now, because if we don’t, our constituents are going to be fighting in the streets,” he said Tuesday on an episode of Steve Bannon’s War Room. “Do you want a civil war? I don’t want a civil war. I don’t want to have to draw my rifle. I want to make this problem go away with my legislative means of doing so, and the first step to getting that done is defunding Fani Willis.”
On Tuesday, Burns called for a lowering of the political temperature, writing in a letter to the Republican caucus that attempts to punish Willis “flaunts the idea of separation of powers, if not outright violates it.”
Other Republican senators have floated the idea of using the state’s new prosecutor oversight commission to investigate Willis, including Sen. Clint Dixon, who said he would submit a formal complaint on Oct. 1, the first day the oversight group will be accepting complaints.
“Once the Prosecutorial Oversight Committee is appointed in October, we can call on them to investigate and take action against Fani Willis and her efforts that weaponize the justice system against political opponents,” the Gwinnett Republican wrote in a social media post. “This is our best measure, and I will be ready to call for that investigation.”
But Kemp also cast doubt on a plan Thursday that has also been promoted by Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch, the chamber’s third ranking member behind Butts County Republican Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, a potential defendant in the election case.
Kemp said the new oversight board gives the public some legal recourse against local prosecutors who they believe are acting unethically.
“Up to this point, I have not seen any evidence that D.A. Willis’ actions or lack thereof warrant action by the Prosecuting Attorney Oversight Commission, but that will ultimately be a decision that the commission will make,” Kemp said. “Regardless, in my mind, a special session of the General Assembly to end run around this law is not feasible and may ultimately prove to be unconstitutional.”
A special prosecutor is supposed to be appointed to decide whether or not to prosecute Jones, who as a state senator in 2020 served as a false GOP elector and also urged lawmakers to hold a special session in order to contest Biden’s nearly 12,000 vote victory over Trump. Earlier this year, a judge disqualified Willis from pursuing any charges against Jones since she raised money for the eventual Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2022.
In an interview published Tuesday in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Gooch said he is open to holding legislative hearings to consider punishing Willis after the regular session resumes in January. The prosecutor’s oversight process is another option, he said.
In August, Jones appointed three prosecutors to serve on the oversight commission that could be asked to investigate Willis.
“She’s politicizing this and we want to make sure these people get a fair trial and a fair shake,” Gooch told the AJC.
Willis has defended her decisions in the case as being an unbiased prosecution of concerted efforts to disrupt the election processes in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and other states. On Aug. 14, she unveiled a 51-count indictment accusing Trump and his co-defendants of racketeering.
Also on Tuesday, Trump asked a judge to waive his upcoming arraignment as he entered a not guilty plea on 13 charges that allege he was a key ringleader in an election collusion criminal enterprise.
On Aug. 14, Fulton grand jury indictments resulted in multiple felony counts against 19 defendants, including Trump and his former personal attorneys Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and several false Electoral College voters, including freshman Georgia state Sen. Shawn Still, a Norcross Republican, and David Shafer, a former Georgia Republican Party chairman and state legislator.
Read the 98-page indictment here.
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