Georgia election probe runs into resistance from witnesses

Aug 17, 2022, 9:23 PM | Updated: Aug 19, 2022, 9:29 am
FILE - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks on July 29, 2022, in McDonough, Ga. Prosecutors investigating...

FILE - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks on July 29, 2022, in McDonough, Ga. Prosecutors investigating whether Donald Trump committed crimes as he sought to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Georgia are running into increasing resistance as they seek to call witnesses to testify before a special grand jury. The latest illustration of that came when lawyers for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp filed a motion to quash a subpoena for his testimony. (AP Photo/Megan Varner, File)

(AP Photo/Megan Varner, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — Prosecutors investigating whether Donald Trump committed crimes as he sought to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Georgia are running into increasing resistance as they seek to call witnesses to testify before a special grand jury.

The latest illustration of that came Wednesday, when lawyers for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp filed a motion to quash a subpoena for his testimony, accusing the office of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat, of pursuing his testimony for “improper political purposes.” Willis rejected that characterization, describing it as dishonest.

Kemp is just one of several witnesses who have pushed back against Willis’ attempt to compel their testimony in a case investigating potential criminal interference in an election. Late Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham formally appealed a judge’s order requiring him to testify before the special grand jury on Aug. 23. And John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who aided Trump’s efforts to undo the 2020 election results, has also pushed back against his subpoena, with a judge in New Mexico on Wednesday rejecting his request and ordering him to travel to Atlanta to testify before the special grand jury.

The witnesses’ reluctance to testify in the case reflects the high stakes of the investigation, which is just one of a long list of serious legal threats that Trump is facing that have intensified in recent weeks. It also demonstrates the power that Trump continues to wield over the Republican Party as he prepares for an expected 2024 presidential campaign.

Willis opened the investigation early last year, prompted by a January 2021 phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. During that conversation, Trump suggested the state’s top elections official could “find” the exact number of votes that would be needed to flip the election results in Georgia. Denying wrongdoing, Trump has described the call as “perfect.”

About a month earlier, Trump had called Kemp, asking him to order a special legislative session to overturn Biden’s victory in the state.

Kemp was scheduled to be questioned under oath by Willis’ team on July 25 in a session that was to be recorded and later played for the special grand jury. Asked by The Associated Press later that day to confirm that the governor had appeared for that meeting, Kemp spokesperson Katie Byrd declined to comment, citing “respect for the grand jury process.”

As it turns out, Kemp never met with Willis’ team.

His lawyers wrote in their motion Wednesday that Willis’ team canceled that meeting and issued a subpoena after Kemp’s attorneys asked about the scope of the interview.

Correspondence attached to the motion indicates that communications between Brian McEvoy, a lawyer for the governor, and the district attorney’s office turned sour in mid-June and then fell apart in late July.

In an email calling the investigation “politically motivated,” McEvoy said Kemp would only sit for the interview if Willis’ office agreed not to issue a subpoena for his testimony. He also demanded disclosure of questions and topics beforehand and said neither party could record the interview.

Willis issued a scathing response, accusing McEvoy of being rude to her team and calling his email “offensive and beneath an officer of the court.” She said she had offered the taped interview as a courtesy, but that that offer was now “off the table” and the governor would be subpoenaed.

“There’s an old adage that people take kindness for weakness. You have taken my kindness as weakness and you have continually treated this investigation with disdain,” Willis wrote. “Despite your disdain this investigation continues and will not be derailed by anyone’s antics.”

Kemp’s subpoena called for him to appear before the special grand jury Thursday. Byrd said in an email that he had been excused from appearing pending a ruling on his motion to quash. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who’s overseeing the special grand jury, has set an Aug. 25 hearing on the motion.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Wednesday, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ruled that Eastman was a material witness and had not proved that traveling to Atlanta would cause an undue hardship for him. Rejecting arguments from Eastman’s lawyer, she said any concerns about attorney-client privilege and his right to assert the Fifth Amendment should be addressed by the judge in Atlanta.

Eastman had told lawmakers during a Dec. 3, 2020, legislative committee hearing at the Georgia Capitol that they had “both the lawful authority and a ‘duty’ to replace” the certified Democratic presidential electors, citing unfounded claims of widespread election fraud in the state, Willis wrote in a court filing.

He also drafted at least two memos to the Trump campaign and others detailing a plan by which then-Vice President Mike Pence, as president of the U.S. Senate, could refuse to count some of the electoral votes won by Biden, Willis wrote.

And in South Carolina on Wednesday, Graham appealed a judge’s Monday order requiring him to testify before the special grand jury. Prosecutors have indicated they’re interested in phone calls he made to Raffensperger and his staff in the weeks following the election.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider Graham’s request. Graham’s legal team also asked a federal judge to put his special grand jury appearance on hold during the appeal process.

___

Kinnard reported from Columbia, S.C. Associated Press writer Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, N.M., contributed to this report.

___

Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.

___

More on Donald Trump-related investigations: https://apnews.com/hub/donald-trump

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

How company off-sites are changing business travel

Business travel used to mean sending employees from their home office to somewhere else — to meet with clients or coworkers at other offices. But for many remote-first companies, it now means the opposite: Bringing employees together from their far-flung homes to work and meet in person. These so-called “off-sites” — a holdover term from […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Serbian police detain migrant smugglers, find weapons, money

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbian special police on Wednesday raided a makeshift camp near the border with Hungary where they found 200 migrants, detained people smugglers and confiscated weapons and money. The police operation in Srpski Krstur, by the Tisa river that runs along the border with Hungary, comes just two days after Serbia, Hungary […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

EU agrees on price cap for Russian oil over Ukraine war

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union countries agreed on Wednesday to impose new sanctions on Russia after it illegally annexed four regions in Ukraine, according to an EU official, including an expected price cap on Russian oil. EU member-state diplomats struck the deal in Brussels, said the official representing the Czech Republic, which holds the 27-nation […]
1 day ago
Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, speaks to the...
Associated Press

WTO predicts trade growth to slow next year amid crises

GENEVA (AP) — The World Trade Organization is predicting global trade volumes will grow a lackluster 1% next year as crises and challenges weigh on markets, including high energy prices, rising interest rates and uncertainties about Chinese manufacturing output amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. The Geneva-based trade body said Wednesday that the amount of goods […]
1 day ago
A resident wades through floodwaters, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Ubon Ratchathani province, northe...
Associated Press

Thai capital on alert for flooding as heavy rains expected

BANGKOK (AP) — Authorities in Thailand warned Wednesday of possible serious flooding in the capital and other parts of the central region from heavy seasonal rainfall expected through the rest of the week. The situation is being worsened by a large volume of water moving downriver from flooding in northern provinces and from discharges from […]
1 day ago
Men weep as they offer prayer outside Kanjuruhan Stadium where a soccer stampede killed more than 1...
Associated Press

Indonesian leader says locked gates contributed to deaths

MALANG, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said on Wednesday that locked gates had contributed to the crush at the soccer stadium that left 131 dead and over 400 injured when police fired tear gas and set off a panicked run for the exits. Widodo made the statement after touring the Kanjuruhan soccer stadium […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Georgia election probe runs into resistance from witnesses