A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) must testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating possible criminal efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Axios reported.
The unanimous decision by the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th circuit upholds a lower court decision ordering Graham to testify despite his repeated attempts to dodge the special grand jury. Graham is expected to appeal the ruling.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened the high-profile investigation early last year after a January 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. During that conversation, Trump suggested that Raffensperger could “find” the votes needed to overturn his narrow loss in the state.
Willis and her team have stated that they want to ask Graham about two specific phone calls they say he made to Raffensperger and his staff shortly after the election. During those calls, Graham asked about “reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump,” according to Willis.
Additionally, the senator “made reference to allegations of widespread voter fraud in the November 2020 election in Georgia, consistent with public statements made by known affiliates of the Trump Campaign.”
Meanwhile, Graham has long contended that he shouldn’t have to answer questions about the calls because they had a legislative purpose and therefore was covered by the speech and debate clause of the Constitution.
However, the appeals court said that Graham “has failed to demonstrate that this approach will violate his rights under the Speech and Debate Clause.”
“Even assuming that the Clause protects informal legislative investigations, the district court’s approach ensures that Senator Graham will not be questioned about such investigations,” the six-page order continued.
“As the court determined, there is significant dispute about whether his phone calls with Georgia election officials were legislative investigations at all. Should there be a dispute over whether a given question about Senator Graham’s phone calls asks about investigatory conduct, the Senator may raise those issues at that time,” it added.
In August, Graham, who has been fighting the subpoena since it was issued in July, said that the “weaponization of the law needs to stop.”
“So I will use the courts,” he continued. “We will go as far as we need to go and do whatever needs to be done to make sure that people like me can do their jobs without fear of some county prosecutor coming after you.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.