ATLANTA (AP) — As promised, US Sen. Lindsey Graham has previously challenged a subpoena to testify a special grand jury investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and others broke any laws when they tried to undo Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia.
Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, received a subpoena issued on July 26 ordering him to appear before the special grand jury on August 23 to testify, his lawyers said in a lawsuit. Graham has challenged the subpoena in federal court instead of before the Fulton County Superior Court judge who oversees the special grand jury.
The senator is one of the Trump allies that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis want to ask as part of her investigation into what she believes was “a coordinated, multi-state Trump campaign plan to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”
Graham had repeatedly said he would challenge the subpoena once he received it, which happened last week, according to his lawyers. He denies meddling in Georgia’s elections.
In a lawsuit last month, Willis, a Democrat, wrote that Graham made at least two phone calls to Georgia’s secretary of state. Brad Raffensperger and members of his staff in the weeks following Trump’s loss to Biden, asking to re-examine certain absentee ballots “to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump.”
When he made those callsGraham “was involved in typical legislative fact-finding – both to help him draft election-related legislation, including in his role as then-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and to help inform his vote to certify the election,” his lawyers wrote. in a bailiff on Friday.
Graham’s lawyers cite a provision of the US Constitution that they say provides “absolute protection against investigation into Senator Graham’s legislative acts”. They also claim that “sovereign immunity” prevents a local prosecutor from subpoenaing a US senator “before an ad hoc state investigative body.” And they claim Willis has failed to “prove the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ necessary to order a senior federal official to testify.”
Since he has been summoned to testify on August 23, his lawyers are striving for a speedy hearing of his request for annulment.
U.S. Representative Jody Hice, a Republican from Georgia, took on a similar challenge in federal court after receiving a subpoena to testify before the special grand jury. After hearing arguments from his attorneys and from Willis’ office, a federal judge last week refused to quash his subpoena.
US District Judge Leigh Martin May sent the case back to Fulton County Superior Court, saying there are at least some questions Hice may need to answer. If a disagreement arises about whether Hice is protected under federal law from answering certain questions, he can bring those issues back to her to settle, she said.
Willis has confirmed that the scope of the investigation includes: a 2 Jan. 2021, phone call between Trump and Raffensperger, in which Trump urged Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to undo his loss in the state.
“I just want to find 11,780 votes, that’s one more than we have,” Trump said during that call.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly described his appeal to Raffensperger as “perfect.”