Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) is trying to avoid testifying under oath before a Fulton County, Ga., grand jury examining Donald Trump’s attempt to undo the 2020 election. Graham almost certainly will be compelled to testify about some matters concerning the defeated former president’s obsession with throwing out Georgia votes. Now, the state’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, is seeking to avoid responding to his grand jury subpoena. He is likely to fail as well.
Kemp, who is running for reelection, does not want to underscore his opposition to Trump’s 2020 coup effort by testifying to the grand jury. Well, it would be politically awkward, but that’s no excuse to not comply with the legal obligations of any Georgia resident.
In response to Kemp’s motion to quash the subpoena, the Fulton County district attorney makes clear the wealth of information Kemp might provide. Dispensing with Kemp’s bogus claim of sovereign immunity (no one is suing Kemp) and his plea for gubernatorial executive privilege, the district attorney argues, “The factual content of his communications with former President Trump or persons connected to Trump can be revealed without disclosing any input he may have received from advisers concerning said conversation.”
There is plenty that Kemp can tell the grand jury, according to the filing:
You can understand why Kemp would be squeamish about revealing all that. But he’s not the one who should be nervous. It’s Trump who has everything to lose.
To the extent that the Trump-Kemp conversations reveal the former president had no evidence of election fraud and tried to lean on Kemp to perform some extralegal contortions on Trump’s behalf, Kemp’s testimony will build on existing evidence (such as Trump’s January 2021 call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” just enough votes to flip the state’s vote outcome) and, together, might provide the basis for charges such as solicitation to commit election fraud, intentional interference with performance of election duties, conspiracy to commit election fraud and/or state racketeering.
Once more, Trump should worry about Republican witnesses that might incriminate him. And that holds true as well for the federal investigation into classified materials in Trump’s possession.
Recall that there is already voluminous evidence that Trump knew he possessed government documents that contained some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets. For example, Trump personally went through documents, some of which were marked with the highest classification level, the New York Times reported. His attorneys had extended conversations with National Archives officials and then with the FBI. The government eventually sent a subpoena. It is virtually impossible to imagine how Trump could have been unaware he was in possession of highly confidential material that did not belong to him.
On top of all that, we learn that then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone acknowledged while Trump was still in office that the documents had to stay. The Post reports that in May 2021, “Archives officials were told by a Trump lawyer that the documents should be given back, according to an email from the top lawyer at the record-keeping agency.” In short, we now know that “Trump’s lawyers had concerns about Trump taking the documents and agreed that the boxes should be returned — at least according to the top Archives officials — while Trump kept the documents.” Trump, however, insisted the documents were his.
In short, the FBI, led by a Trump-appointed director, learned from Trump’s own White House counsel that he knew the documents were improperly retained. Again, even Trump’s White House counsel understood that Trump had no right to leave with sensitive documents.
In sum, wherever one looks — to the Georgia state prosecution, to the Jan. 6 hearings or to the Mar-a-Lago document debacle — Trump’s excuses are wearing thin. Evidence mounts of his willful disregard for the law. And Republicans continue to provide critical evidence that might well result in Trump’s indictment.