Efforts to punish Fani Willis over charges against Trump are “political theater,” says Georgia Gov. Kemp – WABE

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday delivered his harshest criticism yet of his fellow Republicans’ efforts to crack down on Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, dismissing the moves as “political theater that only fuels the emotions of the moment.” ” away.

Some Republicans in Washington and Georgia already attacked Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis before announcing the indictment of former President Donald Trump for conspiracy to overthrow the 2020 election. Kemp said that any calls for a special session to impeach Willis or impeach her were wrong and that she had done nothing to justify impeachment.

A special session, the second-term governor said, “would ignore applicable Georgian law and directly intervene in the proceedings of a separate but equal branch of government.”

“The bottom line is that as long as I’m governor in the state of Georgia, we will obey the law and the constitution regardless of who it politically helps or hurts,” a visibly excited Kemp said at a news conference in the state capital.

“We’re not going to do political theater in Georgia that just fuels the emotions of the moment,” Kemp added.

The comments reflect the rift that remains between Kemp and some fellow Republicans after the governor refused to endorse Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election and help him reverse his narrow defeat in the state. Willis has charged Trump and 18 others, including the former leader of the state’s Republican Party, with crimes related to the effort.

Trump, meanwhile, has continued his scathing attack on Willis and Kemp.

“Governor Kemp of Georgia is fighting hard to remove from office the corrupt, incompetent and highly partisan Fulton County Attorney Fani Willis, who has allowed homicide and other violent crimes to MASSIVELY escalate,” the former president wrote in his book Truth on Aug. 21 social platform. “Atlanta’s crime rate is the worst in the country. She should be charged for many reasons, not just the witch hunt (I did nothing wrong!)”

There is little evidence to support Trump’s claim that crime is escalating — Atlanta’s homicide rate has fallen sharply this year.

Other Georgia Republicans did not hesitate to attack Willis, and some joined Trump in his call for the Atlanta-based prosecutor to be indicted.

“Fani Willis should be ashamed and she will lose her job,” said Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. “We will take care of that.”

Greene spoke to reporters outside the Fulton County jail last Thursday just before Trump arrived in a motorcade to undergo a booking and mugshot. On the same day in Washington, Republicans in the House of Representatives announced their own investigation into Willis.

At this point, some Republican lawmakers in Georgia called for a special session to impeach and fire Willis or impeach her. Others proposed amending the state constitution to allow Kemp to pardon Trump.

Both are long-term prospects.

The Georgia General Assembly hasn’t impeached anyone in more than 50 years, and since Republicans don’t have the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict Willis, they’d have to convince Democrats.

Colton Moore, a Republican state senator whose purist conservatism earns him few allies, started a petition urging lawmakers to call a special session, requiring the signatures of three-fifths of both houses. That, too, would require some support from the Democrats. Kemp on Thursday described Moore’s Trump-backed efforts as “a scam” to raise campaign funds for Moore.

Georgia voters amended the state constitution in the 1940s to shift parole powers from the governor to a parole board after a governor was accused of selling paroles. It would require a two-thirds majority in both houses to submit a measure to voters to change that status, which in turn requires Democrat support.

And it’s not clear if Kemp would pardon Trump even if he had that power. Kemp and Trump were on bad terms even before Kemp dismissed Trump’s calls to overturn the 2020 Georgia presidential election. And relations turned icy after Trump recruited former Senator David Perdue for an embarrassingly unsuccessful Republican primary for Kemp’s re-election in 2022. Kemp, like some other Republican governors, is now openly arguing that his party needs to back away from Trump.

At least one other top Georgia Republican, House Speaker Jon Burns, sided with Kemp and opposed a special session. In a letter Wednesday to fellow Republicans, he quashed talk of a special session for the second time, saying it was impossible to take away the state money that partially funds Willis’s office without also taking money from Georgia’s other 49 district attorneys.

“Targeting a particular prosecutor’s office in this manner certainly demonstrates, if not violates, the idea of ​​separation of powers,” Burns wrote, arguing that such a move upholds the legislature’s oath to uphold the U.S. and Georgia constitutions , would hurt.

“We trust that our criminal justice system will deal with this matter impartially and fairly, and we will not unlawfully intervene in this matter, which is in direct contradiction to our oaths,” Burns continued.

Looking for other ways to prosecute Willis, some Georgia Republicans are banding together in a plan to win her impeachment through a new state attorney’s oversight commission that begins October 1.

The Prosecutor Qualifications Commission was established with the aim of disciplining or dismissing wayward prosecutors. Republicans fought hard for the law, saying some Democratic prosecutors are incompetent or coddle criminals and have wrongly refused to prosecute entire categories of crimes, including marijuana possession.

Democrats countered that Republicans were the ones who were politicizing law enforcement, and some viewed the law as Republican retaliation against Willis. She slammed the move as a racist attack after voters elected 14 non-white prosecutors in the state.

Kemp, Burns and Republican Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones name the commission’s five-person investigative panel to look into the complaints. They also appoint a three-person hearing panel to decide on the charges brought by the committee of inquiry.

Some prosecutors, not including Willis, are already suing to have the law overturned. As of October 1, barring court intervention, individuals can begin filing complaints for alleged wrongdoing that occurred after July 1.

Such complaints could ease the political pressure on Georgia Republicans. But while Kemp said he thought the timing of Trump’s indictment — with the 2024 presidential campaign underway — sowed distrust and provided easy prey for those who see the district attorney’s actions as politically guided, he believed not that Willis should REMOVED.

“I have seen no evidence that prosecutor Willis’s actions or omissions warrant intervention by the prosecutor’s oversight committee,” Kemp said. “But that will ultimately be a decision that the Commission will make.”