US Senator Lindsey Graham must testify in Georgia election probe: Court
Oct 21, 2022 - 08:07 AM
HOUSTON, US (AA) – A federal appeals court ruled late Thursday that US Sen. Lindsey Graham must testify before a special grand jury in the 2020 Georgia election probe.
The investigation centers around whether former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies, including Graham, illegally tried to influence the outcome of the election in that US state.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Graham made several phone calls in the weeks after the election to ask whether he had the power to reject certain absentee ballots, which Raffensperger interpreted as a suggestion to toss out legally cast votes.
Graham claimed that he was protected under the Speech and Debate Clause of the US Constitution in his bid to avoid testifying, which was denied by the three-judge panel of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, including two of Trump’s nominees.
“Senator Graham has failed to demonstrate that this approach will violate 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 ruling said. “As the court determined, there is significant dispute about whether his phone calls with Georgia election officials were legislative investigations at all.”
Graham has denied any wrongdoing and has maintained that his position as a US senator protected him from having to testify in the state investigation.
The appeals court panel did not agree.
“Senator Graham has failed to demonstrate that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his appeal,” the ruling continued. “The three enumerated categories set out by the district court could not qualify as legislative activities under any understanding of Supreme Court precedent. We thus find it unlikely that questions about them would violate the Speech and Debate Clause.”
Graham could still appeal Thursday’s ruling to the full appellate court.