Attorney General Chris Carr: I was elected to do a job

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May 29—ALBANY — Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is one of those Republican elected officials in the state who is expected to get blow-back from the contingent of GOP voters who, in their support of former President Trump, felt that someone — anyone in office — should have done something (anything) to reverse Georgia's thrice-certified election results and turned the state's 13 electoral votes over to Trump, who lost a close race in Georgia and, eventually, the presidency to Democrat Joe Biden.

But Carr, along with Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — all Republicans — has assured Trump supporters and anyone else who would listen that, as the state's top elected officials, they had no choice but to accept the results as certified by three separate recounts and 16 court challenges.

"I'm not saying there was no evidence of misconduct," Carr said during a business/campaign trip to Albany and southwest Georgia Wednesday. "I'm saying that there was not enough to overturn the election results.

"Look, I — and the other people who were elected by the people of Georgia — were elected to do a job, and that's to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of Georgia. That's what I did. I believe any legitimate complaint should be investigated, and that's what was done."

Carr, who was appointed to serve as attorney general by then-Gov. Nathan Deal in 2016 and won a full four-year term when elected in 2018, said he actually enjoys the campaign process and looks forward to "talking to people face-to-face, looking them in the eye" as he seeks another four-year term in office.

The attorney general sat down over a cup of coffee at Elements Coffee Co. in Albany to talk about the pending campaign and compelling law enforcement issues in the state.

ALBANY HERALD: Two of the things you and I talked about when you last came to Albany were the statewide efforts to curtail gang activity and human trafficking. Certainly COVID impacted those efforts, but what is your take on the effort so far?

CHRIS CARR: Yes, the virus definitely impacted what we were doing with those units, but I'm pleased with what we've seen. We've had some successes. We actually have a pretty big deal going on down this way with the GBI and y'all's police, but I don't want to say more about that right now. We've added an additional lawyer — which makes three — and two additional investigators, so we're expecting to see more activity. Everyone working those kinds of cases have simply put their heads down and kept doing what they do.

AH: How do you feel about the legislative changes to the state's citizens arrest law?

CC: I don't remember anyone ever needing to use the citizen's arrest law in Georgia. It was never written as a way to justify a homicide, which we saw in Brunswick with the (Ahmaud) Arbery case. (With the new law) there is not — and there shouldn't be — a gray area.

AH: How did the rash of summer violence in those well-publicized cases of what is being called excessive police response impact Georgia law?

CC: A couple of things: I believe people have the right to defend themselves. That's a fundamental right that citizens have to remain safe. But the focus of the Arbery and George Floyd and Brianna Taylor cases, I believe should be on justice. It's not just to put your knee on someone's neck until they die. But the results of those incidences — the call to defund or refund police budgets — has a demoralizing effect on police personnel, the overwhelming majority of which do things the right way. Now, they are demoralized and left in a situation where, even in a clear case of rule of law, they hesitate to do what they've been trained to do.

I fully believe in the right of every American to protest; that is a fundamental right. Protesters use words. Rioters use violence. No one has the right to light a police car on fire. Widespread criticism of police and the actions of rioters make it difficult for law enforcement officers who believe in the rule of law to enforce the law. There is an underlying fear.

AH: You've been outspoken about issues like the buzzword of the day, Critical Race Theory, which would appear to be more of a political than law enforcement issue. Do you feel that is part of your job?

CC: I believe in the fundamental dignity, value and worth of every human being. I do not believe America is a fundamentally racist country, as this theory states, biased to benefit white males against everyone else. I believe this theory tears apart who we are. And I don't believe taxpayer money should be spent to fund grants that would lead to schools teaching this theory.

AH: You're running for re-election. What do you think about the election process?

CC: I actually enjoy it. I love being around people. I like to look them in the eye and tell them that I intend to do the duty I was elected to do. It's not always easy, but I am a firm believer in the rule of law. And I believe in our federal and state governments' three equal branches. If I — or anyone — doesn't like the laws that are on the books, then they need to join the legislature and change the laws. But I am a political person: I love politics and policy. (Former U.S. Senator) Johnny Isakson told me when I was part of his team that public service is a high and noble calling. In addition to criminal law, I believe in protecting our seniors' health, protecting them from scams and elder abuse. These things matter to me.

AH: How did COVID-19 impact your office?

CC: One thing we discovered is that you can do good legal work without sitting behind a desk at the Capitol from 9-5 every day. Yes, young lawyers need the mentorships they get by being around the more experienced lawyers. Those relationships are valuable. I don't think that part of the job will go away, but there will be some changes in the way we do things.

AH: What are the primary issues that the attorney general's office will deal with in the next four years?

CC: Two things: Protecting people's lives and their livelihood. There is a fundamental need of all human beings to be safe and secure. Sure law enforcement touches on economic development because families and young people starting their careers want to be somewhere where they feel safe and secure. Those are key quality-of-life issues.

AH: Georgia is in a kind of odd political state right now: It just helped elect a Democratic president and two U.S. Senators, yet all of the top-level state leaders are Republicans. Does this impact your campaign?

CC: Johnny Isakson won 59% of the vote the last time he ran. I think Gov. Kemp got something like 50.4% of the vote. So I don't think you can qualify Georgia as an overwhelmingly red state. I think a lot of people in the suburbs have joined the people in more urban areas in questioning where we are politically. I think we're not bright blue by any means, but we're not ruby red. I think all Georgians want leaders who look for commensense, conservative solutions to our problems.

AH: Your office has, at times, been a stepping stone. Any plans for other potential offices down the road?

CC: I just intend to do what's right and deal with the rest as it comes. I can't be driven by politics.

AH: Very good political answer.

Carr smiles as he rises to leave for his next meeting.