Elections

Federal Judge Says Lindsey Graham Has To Testify In 2020 Election Investigation

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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A federal judge ruled against a motion by Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s to quash a subpoena compelling him to testify to a grand jury about former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis subpoenaed Graham in July 2022 as part of a grand jury investigation into a pressure campaign directed against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Graham spoke with Raffensperger by phone twice shortly following the 2020 election.

“Though Senator Graham argues that he is exempt from testifying as a highranking government official, the Court finds that the District Attorney has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2022 elections,” Northern District of Georgia Judge Leigh Martin May wrote in a Monday ruling.

During the calls, Georgia state officials claimed that Graham asked Raffensperger how he could “throw out” absentee ballots and how many he could be able to discard. Graham added that he was specifically asking about signature matching requirements for mail-in votes.

The senator argued those calls are protected by the Constitution, and skipped an Aug. 11 hearing addressing the subpoena. (RELATED: ‘Liberal Activists’ In DOJ Responsible For Lawsuit Against Georgia Voting Bill, Raffensperger Claims)

Graham’s lawyers also argued that his activities were protected by the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution, which protects members of Congress from being arrested or legally “questioned in any other place” about legislative activities. The lawyers added Graham’s testimony to the grand jury was unnecessary, since he was not the only participant on the calls.

May rejected both arguments, ruling that the court “may determine in the first instance whether the entirety of Senator Graham’s calls to Georgia election officials in fact constitute legitimate legislative activity.” She also added that Graham’s “relevance to the grand jury’s investigation—and thus the areas on which he could be asked to testify—extends beyond issues related to the two phone calls he made to Secretary Raffensperger.”

Graham will repeal the ruling, his office said in a statement.

“The Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause prevents a local official from questioning a senator about how that senator did his job.  Here, Sen. Graham was doing his due diligence before the Electoral Count Act certification vote — where he voted to certify the election.  Although the district court acknowledged that Speech or Debate may protect some of Sen. Graham’s activities, she nevertheless ignored the constitutional text and binding Supreme Court precedent, so Sen. Graham plans to appeal to the Eleventh Circuit.”