Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is accusing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis of “engineering” her subpoena for his testimony at the height of his reelection campaign against his Democratic rival Stacey Abrams.
In a court document filed Wednesday, Kemp’s attorneys argued that Willis’ office “engineered the Governor’s interaction with the investigation to reach a crescendo in the middle of an election cycle.” Willis, a Democrat, is investigating an alleged Republican effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
In the motion to dismiss the subpoena issued by the district attorney’s office, the governor claimed that his appearance before a grand jury was “being pursued at this time for improper political purposes.” The filing said that the timing of the subpoena showed “at best, disregard of an unnecessary risk to the political process, and at worst, an attempt to influence the November 2022 election cycle.”
Kemp is running for reelection in this year’s midterm cycle against his longtime foe, Abrams, who lost the governorship by a close margin in 2018. The Republican’s victory with 50.2 percent of the vote was the closest governor’s race in Georgia since 1966.
The current Real Clear Politics average of Georgia polls shows the incumbent GOP governor leading by about 4.2 points.
“What began as an investigation into election interference has itself devolved into its own mechanism of election interference,” the court filing read.
Kemp’s legal team accused Willis of imposing “artificial deadlines” because the governor had “expressed a willingness to engage” as early as April 2021—suggesting the district attorney’s office delayed its subpoena to Kemp—and because the grand jury has been authorized to continue until after the election to May 2023—meaning the subpoena could also have been issued after the midterms.
The filing states that Kemp was scheduled for an interview with Willis back in July but that the district attorney canceled it “abruptly” after the governor’s counsel asked about the “scope of that interview.”
In the motion filed Wednesday, Kemp’s lawyers also said that the subpoena should be quashed because of sovereign immunity—a legal doctrine that says a state cannot commit a legal wrong—and “established” executive privileges provided to the governor and attorney-client privileges.
Newsweek reached out to Willis’ office for comment.
Kemp’s court filing came as other key players have begun giving testimony in Willis’ investigation.
On Wednesday, former President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani was seen leaving the Fulton County courthouse six hours after his grand jury testimony began. Giuliani’s attorneys refrained from commenting on the content of the testimony but said that Giuliani “showed up” and “did what we had to do.”
Subpoenas for the probe in Fulton County have also been issued to Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as well as to John Eastman, Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis and Cleta Mitchell, who were all members of the former president’s legal team.