Georgia governor 'authorized the very mechanism' to target DA Fani Willis before telling GOP to 'stand down'
This past week, infighting erupted among Georgia Republicans after right-wing legislators sought to "convene a special legislative session to oust" Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis because she indicted former President Donald Trump and eighteen of his associates for allegedly attempting to steal the 2020 election.
Despite having signed into law the very legislation that GOP hardliners are invoking in their retaliation against Willis, Republican Governor Brian Kemp — as well as State House of Representatives Speaker Jon G. Burns (R-159th District) and State Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch (R-51st District) — rejected the assemblymembers' plans.
"Let me be clear: We have a law in the state of Georgia that clearly outlines the legal steps that can be taken if constituents believe their local prosecutors are violating their oath by engaging in unethical or illegal behavior," Kemp said at a news conference. "Up to this point, I have not seen any evidence that DA Willis' actions, or lack thereof, warrant action by the Prosecuting Attorney Oversight Commission." Kemp stated that removing Willis is "not feasible and may ultimately prove to be unconstitutional."
Nonetheless, MSNBC's Ja'han Jones explains in a Sunday analysis why Kemp's stance is raising eyebrows.
"The problem here is that Kemp authorized the very mechanism that Trump-supporting lawmakers hope to use to pluck Willis from her position. Kemp signed Senate Bill 92 into law — that is, the bill authorizing the creation of the Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission, which would oversee any such effort," Jones recalls, adding, "Watching Kemp's news conference, I saw a man trying to put out a fire he helped fuel (or, at least, appearing to do so for political purposes)."
Jones continues, "Kemp's critics have also noted" an apparent contradiction in his position.
"Governor Kemp's statements discouraging Georgia officials from retaliating against DA Fani Willis are welcome, but too little and too late," said Public Rights Project founder Jill Habig, whose organization opposes SB 92. Habig added that Kemp "has already opened Pandora's box by creating a partisan commission with broad and vaguely defined authority to investigate, discipline and remove duly-elected prosecutors for, among other things, 'bring[ing] the office into disrepute.'"
Jones writes, "The dubious legal footing on which SB 92 rests, and the near-certainty that it will be weaponized for political purposes, is precisely why the Public Rights Project and the prosecutors it reps have sued to stop SB 92 and the Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission it would create."
Jones concludes, "Kemp's support for SB 92 shows he has a wobbly view of prosecutorial independence. It's all well and good that he doesn't think there's reason to use it against Willis now. But he essentially gave anti-Willis conservatives a weapon when he signed the bill and told them how to use it. Now he wants them to stand down."
View Jones' full report at this link.
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