Appeals court rules Sen. Lindsey Graham must testify in 2020 election probe

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating allegations of . File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating allegations of . File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 21 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court has ruled that Sen. Lindsey Graham must testify before a special grand jury investigating efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Georgia's 2020 presidential election results.

The three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday unanimously sided against the South Carolina Republican, who had asked the court to quash a subpoena to compel his testimony concerning his alleged actions to overturn the 2020 election.


Graham was originally subpoenaed by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in July to testify over his spreading of debunked allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election and phone calls he had with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff in support of Trump's efforts to have the state called in his favor.

The subpoena said Graham had asked Raffensperger and his staff to re-examine certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia "in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump."

Willis had launched the criminal investigation in February of 2021. Trump had lost the state of Georgia by fewer than 12,000 votes, and he is heard in a recoded phone conversation with Raffensperger asking Georgia's secretary of state to "find" 11,780 votes.


Graham, the former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has argued that the calls he made were part of his official investigatory work and that he is protected from testimony by the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution, which ensures that actions taken by members of Congress in the course of their work are immune from being interrogated in court.

Last month, a federal judge ruled that while Graham must testify he can only be questioned about his alleged efforts to persuade Raffensperger to re-examine the ballots.

The three-judge panel on Thursday backed this ruling, stating Graham has failed to show that testifying would violate his rights protected by the clause.

"As the court determined, there is significant dispute about whether his phone calls with Georgia election officials were legislative investigations at all," the ruling states, adding that with the lower court's partial quashal a process was enabled to ensure Graham could dispute certain questions that he may be asked.

"The district attorney can ask about non-investigatory conduct that falls within the subpoena's scope, but the district attorney may not ask about any investigatory conduct. Should there be a dispute over whether a given question about Sen. Graham's phone calls asks about investigatory conduct, the senator may raise those issues at that time," the judges said.


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