Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, asked a federal judge to postpone his appearance before a special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, but the judge refused.
Fani Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, is looking into potential meddling in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election by former President Donald Trump and his friends.
Willis wants Graham to answer questions concerning phone calls he made to Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state for Georgia, after that election.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, asked a federal judge on Friday to postpone his appearance before a special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, as part of an investigation into potential meddling in the state’s 2020 election by former President Donald Trump and his allies. The judge denied his request.
The decision came four days after Judge Leigh Martin May denied Graham’s request to completely overturn a subpoena issued by the court for his testimony as a witness in the investigation. Next Tuesday is Graham’s scheduled appearance before the grand jury.
In order to appeal Monday’s decision and attempt to completely quash the subpoena and avoid testifying, the senator had requested the judge to temporarily delay the implementation of the subpoena. Graham’s appeal was received by the Eleventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals on Thursday.
Graham is expected to be questioned by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis regarding calls he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff following the November 2020 election. During that time, Raffensperger allegedly said that Graham had questioned him regarding Georgia’s election regulations, particularly whether the secretary had the authority to throw out specific mail-in ballots.
Days before Congress met to formally certify the election results, Trump called Raffensperger and pleaded with him to “find” enough votes to overturn the conclusion of Georgia’s race. Trump wrongly attributes widespread fraud for his defeat to President Joe Biden.
The calls were “quintessentially legislative factfinding” by a sitting U.S. senator, according to Graham’s attorneys, who are close allies of Trump. As a result, they were protected by the Constitution’s speech and debate provision.
Even if that clause prevented Graham from testifying about the calls to Raffensperger, May said in Monday’s decision that he might still be questioned about other matters that were pertinent to the investigation.
May repeated in her ruling on Friday that some of Graham’s arguments “are completely unpersuasive.”
“The Court sees no basis for assuming that its judgments as to these matters are likely to be reversed on the merits,” she said. “Senator Graham’s arguments overlook the premise that more than one subject may have been covered on the calls.”
May also dismissed the claim that he will be questioned about the phone calls through those other possible lines of inquiry.
The issue for Graham, according to May, is that “the record thoroughly contradicts” that assertion. “Senator Graham’s constant repetition of this claim does not establish its validity,”
The grand jury inquiry and the public interest will suffer if Graham’s testimony is delayed, the judge also agreed with Willis’ claim.
“The public interest is well-served,” May said, “where an authorized investigation intended to ascertain the facts and circumstances of alleged attempts to interfere with or influence Georgia’s elections is allowed to proceed without undue encumbrances.”
Indeed, she added, “it is crucial that citizens maintain confidence that there are systems in place for examining any such attempts to sabotage elections and, if required, to punish these crimes which, by their very nature, strike at the core of a democratic system.”
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