Thursday’s release of a partial Fulton County grand jury report has everyone astir and curious about who the jurors believe may have lied to them during District Attorney Fani Willis’ probe into Donald Trump’s 2020 election meddling in Georgia.
Anyone invested in the outcome of Willis’ investigation is likely playing whodunit at this point, poring through the list of known witnesses for possible perjurers.
Right now, we’re all awaiting word from Willis’ office on potential charges — for those who may have lied to the grand jury and for others involved in Trump’s scheme to overturn the election. But as we wait, we should take note of actions taken by Republican lawmakers in Georgia.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted in January, Georgia legislators established new rules asserting that lawmakers enjoy “legislative privilege” that frees them from being compelled to testify in court proceedings.
The AJC reported on the nearly party-line vote:
The General Assembly long ago exempted itself from the state’s Open Records Act that all other government officials must obey, a statute designed to ensure the public knows what its elected officials are doing. The Legislature in recent years has gone to court to avoid having to release General Assembly documents.
Republican leaders emphasized that the rules don’t add new protections, but legislators updated the rules after several lawmakers claimed they were immune from subpoenas to testify to a Fulton County grand jury’s investigation of former President Donald Trump.
But Georgia Republicans didn’t stop there.
GOP lawmakers in the Georgia House of Representatives have introduced two bills that would make it easier to remove district attorneys, such as Willis. One measure, House Bill 229, would significantly lower the number of signatures needed from registered voters to trigger a recall for a district attorney. And another measure, House Bill 231, would establish a state commission that would have the power to remove a prosecutor.
The commission’s members would be chosen by Georgia’s governor, lieutenant governor, House speaker and the Senate Committee on Assignments. Notably, all of these votes are currently held by Republicans, including each seat on the Senate committee. Votes on both bills are expected during the ongoing legislative session.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Georgia Republicans — some of whom have been subpoenaed in Willis’ probe — are taking steps that seem like a response to her investigation, just as it’s kicking into another gear.