AUGUST 21, 2023
Former President Donald Trump attacked Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Monday, accusing him of blocking an effort to impeach Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis after her office brought election interference charges against Trump last week—and while the legislature has the tools to impeach Willis, it’s unlikely the effort will succeed.
Trump accused Kemp of “fighting hard against the impeachment” and attacked Willis as “crooked, incompetent, & highly partisan” in a Truth Social post on Monday.
Trump made the comments after Republican Georgia state Sen. Colton Moore asked Kemp in a letter last week to call a special session to investigate and potentially impeach Willis for “potentially abusing her position of power by pursuing former President Donald J. Trump.”
Moore suggested in his letter to Kemp that he had support of three-fifths of the members of both the House and Senate for a special session, which would compel Kemp to call one into order, pursuant to the state constitution.
Kemp spokesperson Garrison Douglas denied that three-fifths of members of both chambers support the effort in comments to Fox News, referring Fox to a statement one of Kemp’s advisors made to another outlet in which he suggested impeachment efforts could deter Republican voters and lead to GOP election losses.
It’s unlikely Moore could net the support to convene a special session, since Republicans do not make up three-fifths of either chamber, meaning they would have to wait until the legislature’s regular session begins in January to vote on impeaching Willis.
Even after the state legislature is in session, the idea of removing Willis faces long odds: Georgia’s constitution lays out a process similar to Congress’ rules for impeaching federal officials, meaning the House would vote on whether to impeach Willis, then the Senate would conduct a trial, and a conviction requires a vote from two-thirds of senators.
All 33 of the state Senate’s Republicans, plus four Democrats, would need to vote in favor of impeaching Willis to reach the threshold.
Whether a new commission established by the legislature and signed into law by Kemp earlier this year to tamp down on what Kemp called “far-left prosecutors . . . making our communities less safe” will be asked to investigate Willis. The Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission was established in July and can begin accepting complaints in October, though a group of Georgia DAs are suing to block the law. The new law gives the commission broad authority to remove prosecutors who “refuse to uphold the law” and could be used to target prosecutors who say they will refuse to enforce anti-abortion laws.
Trump repeatedly attacked Willis and tried to derail her probe before charges were filed. A judge in July rejected Trump’s push to disqualify Willis from the case and eliminate evidence.
Willis wouldn’t be the first prosecutor to face an ouster handed down by a state legislature. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was impeached by the legislature in May over broad allegations of abusing his authority, including bribery, making inaccurate financial statements to the state ethics commission and misconduct related to a securities fraud case against him. Philadelphia’s Republican-controlled House also voted to bring impeachment proceedings against progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner last year, but the effort was suspended when a court ruled earlier this year that the articles of impeachment were not constitutionally sound. Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended two local prosecutors, accusing an Orlando-area state attorney of “neglect of duty.”
Willis’s office charged Trump with 13 felonies related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state last week. He was indicted by a grand jury last Monday, along with 18 co-defendants who are required to surrender in Fulton County by Friday at noon. The indictment accuses them of a racketeering scheme aimed at delegitimizing the election results and tipping the contest in Trump’s favor, including enlisting a slate of fake electors to sign fraudulent certificates declaring Trump the winner to the Electoral College and pressuring state officials to aid in their efforts. A day after the charges were unsealed, Kemp criticized Trump for his voter fraud allegations and said the “2020 election in Georgia was not stolen.”