A federal judge in Georgia has dismissed Sen. Lindsey Graham’s attempt to avoid testifying before an Atlanta-area grand jury investigating 2020 election interference, dismissing the Trump ally’s claim that which he was protected from such scrutiny by legislative privilege.
U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May ruled that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis “shown extraordinary circumstances and a particular need for the testimony of Senator Graham on matters relating to alleged attempts to influence or to disrupt the legal administration of the 2020 elections in Georgia”.
The judge’s ruling preceded more bad news for former President Donald Trump’s top allies in the Georgia investigation: an attorney for Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Fulton County said. prosecutors now consider Giuliani a ‘target’ of the investigation.
Graham, the South Carolina Republican, had claimed he was conducting legitimate investigations as a lawmaker under the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause when he contacted Georgia officials after the 2020 election.
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“The Court finds that there are considerable areas of potential grand jury inquiry that fall outside the protections of the speech or debate clause,” May said. “Furthermore, sovereign immunity does not preclude Senator Graham from testifying before the special grand jury.”
The judge, however, left open the possibility that the privilege could apply to certain questions posed by prosecutors working with the grand jury.
“The mere possibility that certain investigative leads may implicate Senator Graham’s immunity under the speech or debate clause does not justify quashing the subpoena in its entirety as there are considerable areas of investigation which are clearly not legislative in nature,” May wrote.
Graham will appeal the decision, according to a statement released Monday by his office.
“The Constitution’s speech or debate clause prevents a local official from questioning a senator about how that senator did his or her job,” the statement said. “Here, Senator Graham was doing his due diligence before the Voter Count Act certification vote – where he voted to certify the election.”
Last week, Graham said he would exhaust all legal avenues to defend his position.
“We will go as far as necessary and do whatever needs to be done to make sure people like me can do their jobs without fear of a county prosecutor coming after you,” Graham said.
Graham made at least two phone calls to Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Raffensperger staffers in the weeks following the November 2020 election, requesting further review of mail-in ballots, court documents show. filed in support of the summons request.
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“The witness also referred to allegations of widespread voter fraud during the November 2020 election in Georgia, consistent with public statements made by known Trump campaign affiliates,” the court documents state.
Graham has previously denied allegations that he pressured officials to exclude ballots, saying he was trying to understand the method by which different states scrutinize ballots.
“This is all just politics,” Graham’s attorneys Bart Daniel and Matt Austin said last month. “Fulton County is engaged in a fishing expedition and is working in concert with the January 6 Committee in Washington.”
Graham’s challenge comes after the same judge rejected a similar offer from Georgia Rep. Jody Hice, which echoed Trump’s voter fraud allegations. Hice also argued that the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause protected him from law enforcement scrutiny related to his work as a legislator.