Sep 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Judge rules Sen. Graham must testify in Georgia 2020 election probe

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in Washington, D.C., in August 2022.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in Washington, D.C., in August 2022. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) must comply with a subpoena and testify before the Atlanta special grand jury investigating possible criminal efforts to overturn the 2020 election, rejecting his appeal to quash the subpoena.

Why it matters: Prosecutors have argued that Graham, the highest profile figure to be subpoenaed by the Fulton County District Attorney as part of the investigation, must testify because his actions around the election "certainly appear" linked to former President Trump's effort to pressure Georgia election officials into helping him with the state.

The big picture: However, U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May did limit the scope of the subpoena, saying Graham could not be asked about his “investigatory fact-finding on telephone calls to Georgia election officials," including "how such information related to his decision to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election."

  • May said this topic falls under the protection of the Constitution's Speech or Debate clause, which prohibits questions on legislative activity.
  • Graham had asked the court to quash the entire subpoena under the clause, arguing that he should be shielded from inquiry because he was operating in his capacity as a legislator in calls to Georgia election officials.

What they're saying: “We are pleased that the district court recognized that Senator Graham’s testimony is protected by the Speech or Debate Clause," Graham's office said in a statement on Thursday.

  • "He will continue to defend the institutional interests of the Senate and the Constitution before the Eleventh Circuit," it added.

What's next: Graham is allowed to appeal Thursday's ruling, meaning his testimony may again be delayed.

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