A federal judge Monday ordered U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify before the Fulton County special grand jury investigating attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
Graham, R-S.C., received a subpoena late last month to answer questions about two phone calls he allegedly made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger after Democrat Joe Biden carried the Peach State on his way to winning the presidency over Republican incumbent Donald Trump.
Graham’s lawyer filed a motion to quash the subpoena, arguing the senator was shielded by the U.S. Constitution from being questioned about matters relating to legislative business.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, Graham maintained he made the calls in the course of “protected legislative factfinding inquiries” about mail-in voting and potential reforms to the process for counting Electoral College votes.
But U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May declared in a 22-page ruling that the issues Graham raised with Raffensperger were political – not legislative – in nature.
“Individuals on the calls have publicly suggested that Senator Graham was not simply engaged in legislative factfinding but was instead suggesting or implying that Georgia election officials … potentially alter the state’s results,” the judge wrote.
Graham also argued he should not be forced to testify because he is a “high-ranking government official” and that the information he could give the jurors could be obtained elsewhere. Again, the judge disagreed.
“Senator Graham has unique personal knowledge about the substance and circumstances of the phone calls with Georgia election officials, as well as the logistics of setting them up and his actions afterward,” the ruling stated.
“Accordingly, Senator Graham’s potential testimony on these issues—in addition to his knowledge about topics outside of the calls such as his alleged coordination with the Trump campaign before and after the calls are unique to Senator Graham.”
The order for Graham to testify before the special grand jury follows the similar rejection of a motion to quash a subpoena Fulton District Attorney Fanni Willis issued to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to appear before the panel.
Giuliani was among the witnesses who questioned the legitimacy of Biden’s win in Georgia in testimony before the state Senate in December 2020.
He presented a video of election workers at State Farm Area in Atlanta producing “suitcases” of unlawful ballots, a video that was quickly debunked by Raffensperger’s office.
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro, a Trump ally who based an unsuccessful Republican primary challenge of Raffensperger on allegations of widespread voter fraud in the Georgia election, also lost a bid to quash a subpoena from the special grand jury.
Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert C.I. McBurney also has denied efforts to quash subpoenas lodged by a lawyer for 11 of the 16 Georgia Republicans who formed an alternate slate of electors for Trump in December 2020.
Pending a potential additional appeal, Graham is due to testify on Aug. 23.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.