Updated Oct 20, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Appeals court: Lindsey Graham must testify in 2020 election probe

Photo of Lindsey Graham sitting behind a table

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee on data security on Sept. 13, 2022 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Kevin Dietsch via Getty Images.

A federal appeals court ruled unanimously Thursday that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) must testify before the Atlanta special grand jury investigating possible criminal efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Why it matters: The ruling upholds a lower court decision ordering Graham to testify despite his repeated attempts to dodge the special grand jury. He is likely to appeal.

Driving the news: A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit denied Graham's request to block the subpoena and affirmed the lower court's decision to narrow the scope of questions prosecutors can ask him.

  • Graham had argued that a sitting senator is shielded from these types of investigations, but the appeals court said he "has failed to demonstrate that this approach will violate his rights under the Speech and Debate Clause."

What they're saying: "Even assuming that the Clause protects informal legislative investigations, the district court's approach ensures that Senator Graham will not be questioned about such investigations," noted the six-page order.

  • "As the court determined, there is significant dispute about whether his phone calls with Georgia election officials were legislative investigations at all," the order added.
  • "Should there be a dispute over whether a given question about Senator Graham’s phone calls asks about investigatory conduct, the Senator may raise those issues at that time."

What to watch: Graham said in August that "we will take this as far as we need to take it."

  • "This weaponization of the law needs to stop. So I will use the courts," he added. "We will go as far as we need to go and do whatever needs to be done to make sure that people like me can do their jobs without fear of some county prosecutor coming after you."

Worth noting: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) has said Graham was one of several Republicans who pressed him to reverse Trump's 2020 loss in the state.

  • Raffensperger told the Washington Post that Graham asked if he had the power to throw out all mail ballots in certain counties.

The big picture: Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone testified before the special grand jury in recent months, per CNN.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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