Lindsey Graham wins reprieve from testifying in Georgia election investigation
The South Carolina senator, one of Trump’s most prominent allies, was expected to testify on Tuesday
A federal appeals court on Sunday paused a subpoena that required Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to testify before a grand jury in an investigation into attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.
What happened: The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the pause to give time for a lower court to decide whether Graham will be compelled to testify as a witness in the Fulton County district attorney’s probe into alleged election interference by former President Donald Trump’s allies, after the senator argued the subpoena should be quashed.
This is not Graham’s first attempt to avoid testifying in the case. Prior to this emergency appeal, the court denied a request to postpone the testimony. The judge called Graham’s arguments “entirely unpersuasive,” according to The Washington Post.
Graham alleged that the subpoena would violate the “speech and debate” clause of the U.S. Constitution. The clause protects members of Congress from being implicated in civil lawsuits because of what they “say in the course of legislative activities,” according to John Vile, a political science professor at Middle Tennessee State University.
But the Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that the clause applies only to “purely legislative activities,” not political speech.
Why it matters: Graham is one of the high-profile witnesses sought in the investigation. Former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani testified before the grand jury for six hours last week. Giuliani also fought his subpoena but was ultimately compelled to testify.
Prosecutors reportedly want to ask Graham about phone calls he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger following the 2020 election, during which he asked “about ways to help … Trump by invalidating certain mail-in votes,” according to The New York Times.
Graham says the subpoena is “ridiculous” and a “weaponization of the law.” His lawyers also clarified he is merely a witness for the prosecution not a target.
What’s next: The judge gave Graham’s team until Wednesday morning to tell the court which questions they argue violate the speech and debate clause. The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office will have until Aug. 29 to respond, with another response by Graham due on Aug. 31.