Judge denies Graham push to delay Fulton testimony

“As a result, delaying the Senator’s testimony would not merely delay his appearance,” DA Fani Willis wrote, “it would also delay the disclosure of an entire class of relevant witnesses or information, each of which would require time and resources extra to get on behalf of the “grand jury”.

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Graham’s attorneys on Wednesday asked May, an appointee of President Barack Obama, to block the senator’s testimony until his appeal is considered by the 11th Circuit.

“Senator Graham will suffer irreparable harm if compelled to appear before his appeal is complete,” his team’s motion said.

Monday May rejected Graham’s attempt to quash his subpoena, ruling that prosecutors had “shown extraordinary circumstances and a particular need for Senator Graham’s testimony on matters relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the legal administration of 2022 elections in Georgia”.

Graham’s attorneys had argued that the senator, a close confidant of former President Donald Trump, was shielded from testifying due to several federal doctrines, including the Constitution’s “Speech or Debate” clause and the sovereign immunity.

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Prosecutors want to question Graham about two phone calls he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his office in late 2020, in which the two sides discussed mail-in ballots and alleged electoral fraud. They also want to see how well Republican efforts could have been coordinated with the Trump campaign.

Graham’s attorneys told May the appeals were shielded from judicial review because they constituted a legitimate legislative inquiry. They expressed concern that inquiries on other matters could serve as a backdoor to question the senator about his official work in the Senate, which is protected by statutory immunity.

May’s ruling earlier this week said there were several political topics Graham could be asked about. They include any potential coordination with the Trump campaign, attempts to “cajole” or “urge” Georgia election officials to take certain actions, and public statements Graham has made to the press or outside of Congress about the 2020 elections.

The judge ruled on Friday that delaying Graham’s testimony any longer – his subpoena went public on July 5 — would harm the public interest.

“The public interest is well served when a legal investigation aimed at uncovering the facts and circumstances of alleged attempts to disrupt or influence elections in Georgia is allowed to proceed without unnecessary clutter,” May wrote. “Indeed, it is important that citizens continue to believe that there are mechanisms in place to investigate such attempts to disrupt elections and, if necessary, to prosecute these crimes which, by their very nature, strike at the heart of a democratic system”.

Graham voted with 98 of his Senate colleagues to confirm May to the federal bench in 2014.

The senator’s filing with the 11th Circuit noted that the prosecutor’s office initially agreed to postpone Graham’s grand jury testimony until his appeal is resolved, but prosecutors reported that they had changed course. notice after 4 a.m. Friday.

Meanwhile, Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney announced Thursday that he will hear a subpoena challenge from Gov. Brian Kemp on Aug. 25.

The Republican Governor filed a request for annulment his subpoena earlier this week, detailing a breakdown in communications between his aides and the Fulton DA’s office. Kemp cited sovereign immunity, attorney-client and executive privilege and the upcoming November election as reasons his testimony should be blocked — or at least delayed until later in the year.

Writer Bill Rankin contributed to this article.

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