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Photos of Brian Kemp and Fani Willis.
Gov. Brian Kemp really doesn't want to testify in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ probe.Getty Images; AP / MSNBC

Brian Kemp, fearing Trump investigation, tries to duck subpoena

Georgia's GOP governor is working hard to avoid giving up the (potential) goods on Trump.


Each day seems to bring new signs of progress from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ criminal probe of Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 Georgia election results. And Republicans are squirming.

On Wednesday, as former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani testified, at long last, before a Georgia grand jury, the state’s governor filed a motion to avoid having to do so himself. 

Kemp appears to be part of the “no snitches” squad when it comes to Trump.

It’s a blatantly hypocritical move from Gov. Brian Kemp, who leaned heavily into his purported support for law enforcement during his 2018 gubernatorial campaign. 

But Kemp appears to be part of the “no snitches” squad when it comes to Trump. Meanwhile, his rationale for refusing to talk is laughable. 

Kemp’s attorneys claimed in a court filing Wednesday that Willis “has engineered the Governor’s interaction with the investigation to reach a crescendo in the middle of an election cycle.”

In an email exchange last month with one of Kemp’s attorneys, Willis herself responded to claims she was aiming to hurt Kemp’s election chances, saying, “You repeatedly referring to it as a politically motivated investigation, does not make it so.”

For the record, there’s no “you’re cramping my style” defense for defying a subpoena, so it’s unclear whether Kemp’s claims that he shouldn’t have to testify close to Election Day will hold up in court. But Kemp’s lawyers also claimed he shouldn’t have to testify because his actions are covered by executive privilege (his carrying out his duties as governor).

It’s similar to the claim lobbed by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who’s also still trying to avoid complying with a subpoena to testify in Willis’ probe. Both men have potentially damning info to share. 

Trump called Kemp after the 2020 election for help overturning Joe Biden’s election victory. Kemp rebuffed Trump, but he has been noticeably careful not to criticize the former president further. His refusal to testify similarly seems like an effort not to ruffle Trump’s feathers — particularly as Kemp will need his supporters’ backing to win re-election against Stacey Abrams this November. 

Importantly, Trump hasn’t ruled out endorsing Kemp. “We’ll be looking at everything,” he said this month when he was asked about a possible endorsement. 

By defying a subpoena in Fulton County, Kemp is trying to look out for his own election prospects. But the governor, who purports to care about election integrity, is simultaneously hampering what is likely to be the most important investigation into election meddling in his state’s history.