Georgia’s GOP governor says Trump shouldn’t get presidential immunity: ‘No one is above the law’

Written by on February 11, 2024

Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(ATLANTA) — Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on Sunday pushed back on former President Donald Trump’s argument that he should be granted legal immunity for his actions while he was in the White House.

“My personal opinion is, no one is above the law,” Kemp told ABC News’ “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl.

“You know, I’ve continued to talk about following the law and the Constitution and that’s what I’m going to continue to do in the great state of Georgia,” Kemp said.

His comments come as Trump faces four looming trials for 91 criminal charges. Trump has denied all wrongdoing, including in the federal case alleging he participated in an illegal effort to overturn the 2020 election results. (He has pleaded not guilty.)

Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger were both pressured by Trump to help reverse his loss in the state that year. When they refused, they became the target of Trump’s anger — with Kemp then facing a Trump-backed primary challenger during his 2022 reelection campaign, which he went on to win.

Kemp said on “This Week” that that victory showed how continuing to focus on the 2020 presidential election could be harmful for conservatives. It was a warning that he’d also shared with other top Republicans, he said.

“We’ve got to tell people what we’re for. We’ve got to stay focused on the future. Quit looking in the rearview mirror. I believe that the voters that are going to decide this presidential election are tired of hearing about the 2020 election and want to focus on what candidates are going to do for them in the months and years ahead,” Kemp said, echoing past veiled criticism of Trump’s fixation on the last race.

“We showed in the 2022 election if you run on issues and your record and tell people what you’re going to do for them in the future, you can be very successful,” Kemp said, arguing that voters are looking for “leadership” during crisis.

On Saturday, speaking at a political conference at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, Kemp said that it’s “pretty clear [voters] aren’t sold on what Republicans will do if they win this November.”

Asked on “This Week” to elaborate on what he was referring to, Kemp cited what he sees as voter “frustration.”

“I just think at any level, whether it’s the presidential race, people are that are running for the United States Senate, Congress, local races, I think there’s been a lot of frustration out there amongst the American people of politicians trying to destroy the other side versus telling people why you should vote for us,” he said.

Kemp has yet to endorse in the 2024 Republican primary; however, when asked about the state of the race and the calls for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who campaigned for Kemp during the 2022 midterms, to end her campaign after losing to Trump in the early voting states so far, he said, “I would encourage her to keep fighting.”

“If I was the Trump campaign, you know, I would be pushing to get Nikki Haley out. If I was Gov. Haley, I’d be, you know — she feels strongly about what she’s doing and the message that she’s bringing to the American people, then I would encourage her to keep fighting,” he said.

“I think you need to let the process play out,” he said.

Asked to respond to Trump’s recent remarks suggesting Haley’s husband — Maj. Michael Haley, a South Carolina national guardsman who is currently serving a voluntary deployment in Africa — left to get away from her on the campaign trail, Kemp said he would let Trump “answer that question” while defending military families.

“I think it’s unfortunate for anybody to be criticizing our men and women serving overseas regardless of whether they’re overseas fighting a battle or on the border doing the same,” Kemp told Karl.

Kemp spoke most bluntly about the situation at the southern border and criticized what he called Biden’s utter failure to address immigration issues.

Kemp was among more than a dozen Republican governors that joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at the U.S.-Mexico border last week. On Sunday, Kemp criticized Congress for being unable to agree on new immigration legislation after many Republicans — and Trump — came out against a bipartisan deal in the Senate that would tighten border security.

“I think people in D.C. ought to be voting on policy, not what somebody’s telling them what to do. That’s just my personal opinion. I’ll let you know each of the senators and the representatives speak to that,” Kemp said.

“But I also think, for President Biden, trying to pass the buck and blame Republicans now about the issue at the border, it’s just a simple lack of leadership,” he said, highlighting the fact that Democrats had control of the legislative and executive branches from 2020 to 2022 and also didn’t pass new laws.

Biden has maintained he is taking major action in order to cut back on illegal border crossings while allowing migrants to seek humanitarian protections.

The White House has also said Congress isn’t helping because they won’t approve more border resources amid GOP skepticism of Biden.

“People have been working on this for the last 10 or 20 years. Just secure the dang border, that’s what the people want,” Kemp said on Sunday.

“We’ve got to secure the whole southern border,” he continued. “And it takes the president to do that.”

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