OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
State Republicans in Georgia who control the legislature are reportedly seeking new ways to shield former President Donald Trump from what they see as a Democrat-led effort to punish a political foe.
Specifically, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace reported on Friday during a segment with fellow network colleague Rev. Al Sharpton “that Republicans in Georgia are looking to change Georgia’s rules on pardons after a state senator sent a letter to Governor Brian Kemp, demanding he convene an emergency special session for ‘the review and response to the actions’ of Fulton County DA Fani Willis.”
That said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, top Republicans in the state, where the party holds a substantial majority in both chambers of the legislature, have said rule changes aren’t likely.
A top deputy to House Speaker Jon Burns dismissed the idea, noting that in order to change the rules, it would require changing the state constitution, which can only happen with a two-thirds majority in both chambers.
“Given the political makeup of the General Assembly,” Burns spokesman Kaleb McMichen told the AJC, “such an amendment is not feasible and thus would not merit consideration.”
Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican with whom Trump has sparred in the past over the outcome of the 2020 election in Georgia, has pardon authority, but there are limits.
According to US News:
Similar to a commander in chief, a governor wields executive authority. And Georgia is a solidly Republican state, with a GOP governor, decisive Republican majorities in both chambers of the legislature and a solidly red congressional delegation. So a pardon wouldn’t necessarily generate a seismic electoral wave and might even be welcomed in some quarters.
Yet, for any number of other reasons, a Trump pardon in Georgia is all but out of the question.
For one thing, the authority of Gov. Brian Kemp to issue pardons is not absolute. Georgia is one of six states where pardons are granted by an independent board whose members are appointed by the governor – unlike 41 other states where governors hold such power or share the responsibility with an independent body.
“In a normal process, if you were just a run-of-the-mill federal prisoner, you would apply, go through the DOJ, and the president would green light it or red light,” Amy Lee Copeland, a former federal prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer in Savannah, told the outlet. “Georgia is a lot different.”
“It’s not automatic,” Copeland added. “You don’t get convicted, and then you can immediately apply for a pardon.”
Mike Davis, a former GOP Senate aide who runs a conservative advocacy group, during a Fox News appearance this week, called on state Republican lawmakers to “give Gov. Kemp the ability to pardon in this situation because this is clear election interference.”
The AJC said that there are enough Republicans in the state legislature to pass changes to Georgia’s pardon system, but even if it passed, it’s not certain Kemp would sign it; Trump attempted to get Kemp defeated as he ran for reelection last year.
Still, Georgia Republican state senator Colton Moore, in a letter sent to Kemp, which Breitbart News obtained, Moore announced an initiative to begin an emergency session to investigate the actions taken by Willis after a Fulton County jury indicted Trump on 13 counts earlier this week.
Moore’s investigation could potentially lead to defunding Willis’s investigation of Trump and/or ultimately impeaching the district attorney.
“We must strip all funding and, if appropriate, impeach Fani Willis,” Moore said in a statement. “As a Georgia State Senator, I am officially calling for an emergency session to review the actions of Fani Willis. America is under attack. I’m not going to sit back and watch as radical left prosecutors weaponize their elected offices to politically target their opponents.”