Federal appeals court temporarily halts order for Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify in Georgia election investigation
- A federal appeals court temporarily blocked Graham from appearing before a Georgia grand jury.
- Fulton County prosecutors want Graham to offer testimony in their probe into the 2020 election.
- Graham has argued that his status as a sitting federal lawmaker should exempt him from testifying.
A federal appeals court on Sunday temporarily blocked Sen. Lindsey Graham from having to appear before a grand jury investigating election interference in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit sent the proceedings linked to the Fulton County grand jury subpoena back to a lower court to determine if the South Carolina Republican should be exempt from answering particular questions as a result of his status as a sitting federal lawmaker.
The decision offers a temporary reprieve to Graham, who had fought against prosecutorial efforts to appear before a grand jury.
According to The New York Times, Graham has contended that he shouldn’t be compelled to testify in the case led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, pointing to the Constitution’s speech and debate clause, which bars asking lawmakers about their “legislative functions.”
After District Court Judge Leigh Martin May last Monday rejected Graham’s claim of constitutional immunity in the case, the lawmaker was still slated to testify on Tuesday at a courthouse in downtown Atlanta.
But on Sunday, the appeals court listed what actions must be performed before Graham would have to testify before a grand jury.
The court ruled that a district court must weigh in on whether Graham is “entitled to a partial quashal or modification of the subpoena to appear before the special purpose grand jury,” which is tied to the senator’s inquiry about the speech and debate clause.
The appeals court said they would then hear the issue “for further consideration.”
Graham’s attorneys have stated that their client was told by Fulton County prosecutors that he was considered to be a witness — and not a target — in the probe.
Still, the prosecutors want to hear from Graham.
Former President Donald Trump lost Georgia to now-President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election by roughly 12,000 votes out of roughly 5 million ballots cast.
But Trump continued to cast doubt on the victory in the Peach State, which for decades had only backed Republican presidential nominees — including his 2016 statewide win against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In January 2021, the then-president pushed for Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes to overturn Biden’s win and repeatedly attacked GOP Gov. Brian Kemp for dismissing his election-related pressure campaign.
After the election, Graham called Raffensperger to inquire about whether the secretary had the ability to reject mail-in ballots in certain counties in the state, according to The Washington Post.
Graham rejected any notion that he was seeking to cast aside legal mail-in ballots and said he was hoping to find out more about how Georgia verified ballots that were cast using that particular method.