Brian Kemp and Donald Trump, g

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Why Georgia’s governor can’t pardon Trump

People online are wondering.


Marlon Ettinger


Posted on Aug 15, 2023   Updated on Aug 23, 2023, 12:59 pm CDT

The latest indictment against former president Donald Trump comes in Fulton County, Georgia, where district attorney Fani Wilis filed 41 felony counts against Trump and 18 of his associates, including his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, his “Kraken” lawyer Sidney Powell, and Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows.

The allegations stem from actions prosecutors say Trump and his associates took after the 2020 election in Georgia to overturn the results, which had Joe Biden win the state.

The first charge listed on the indictment is a violation of the Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act, which is often used to target organized crime.

If Trump is found guilty on that single charge, he’ll face a minimum of five years in prison under Georgia state law.

But if he is convicted, some social media users asked, why can’t the governor of Georgia just pardon him?

“He can be pardoned, by the Governor of Georgia,” commented TikTok user @jm062672 on a video announcing the indictment.

“Can a GA Governor pardon him or commute his sentence?” asked TikTok user @daddybill5250.

“Nope. Not in Georgia. Governor has no powers, it’s in their laws,” replied TikTok user @shimmeringsea.

“No. not in GA. Only the board of Pardons in GA can give a pardon,” said @katsewsatl.

@andyostroy #DonaldTrump #Trump #MarkMeadows #Georgia #indictment #RudyGiuliani #Giuliani #MarkMeadows #MAGA #crime #politics #election #FaniWillis #RICO ♬ Ominous to Climax – Parry Music

In Georgia, pardons come from a board of pardons and paroles, reported MSNBC. The board is composed of five members named by the governor, then approved by the state Senate. The board members serve seven-year terms that are staggered, so not all members are appointed under the same governor.

The board also requires that applicants for pardons don’t have any pending charges and that they serve their “full sentence obligation” before they’re eligible for pardons or clemency. Meaning Trump would have to go to jail before he gets any reprieve from the state.

Even if the governor did have the power of the pardon in Georgia, Trump might not find much help there. The governor, Brian Kemp, is a Republican who beat Trump-endorsed David Perdue in the 2022 primary. Trump endorsed Perdue as retaliation for Kemp’s recertification of the 2020 election in favor of Biden, reported Politico. Since then, Trump had been “bent on ousting the governor from office, recruiting and endorsing Kemp’s primary opponent.”

In response, Politico reported, Kemp’s team waged a campaign “to go fucking scorched-earth,” according to Jay Walker, a Kemp adviser. “When you got your foot on someone’s neck, you don’t take it off until the race is over, or they’ve run out of oxygen.”

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*First Published: Aug 15, 2023, 10:07 am CDT