The Georgia grand jury was temporarily prevented from requiring Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify in its investigation of efforts to sabotage President Biden’s 2020 election victory while the Supreme Court evaluates Graham’s claim of congressional immunity.
The district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, which encompasses the state capital of Atlanta, examines allegations that former President Donald Trump and his friends attempted to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory by persuading election officials to modify the vote count. Following the election, Mr. Graham, who, like Mr. Trump, denies wrongdoing, called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger at least twice.
The Democratic district attorney Fani Willis convened a special grand jury to examine the claims and summoned Mr. Graham’s testimony. Mr. Graham contends that the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, which grants legislators a privilege for their legislative actions, shields him from collaboration.
Mr. Graham has stated that he made the calls to collect information related to his roles as then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and as a senator tasked with certifying the 2020 presidential election, arguing that the Constitution shielded him from being questioned about these legislative efforts.
The courts denied Mr. Graham’s request for blanket immunity from cooperating with the grand jury. However, he may object to inquiries that violate his constitutional privilege. Mr. Graham, represented by former Trump White House lawyer Don McGahn, filed a motion with the Supreme Court on Friday to halt the instructions of the lower courts.
Mr. Graham has resisted the subpoena from the beginning, but lower courts have rejected his claims of absolute immunity. Earlier this week, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta opined that there was substantial disagreement as to whether Mr. Graham’s interactions with Mr. Raffensperger constituted a type of congressional probe entitled to constitutional immunity.
The 11th Circuit stated that the judge reasoned that three topics unrelated to the phone calls—communications and coordination with the Trump campaign regarding its postelection efforts in Georgia, public statements regarding the 2020 election, and efforts to ‘cajole’ or ‘exhort’ Georgia election officials—were not legislative activities. Monday’s move by Justice Thomas was not immediately responded to by the Fulton County district attorney’s office. Justice Thomas, who supervises 11th Circuit emergency proceedings, directed the prosecution to respond by Thursday. Mr. Graham’s application may be reviewed during the justices’ already-scheduled private meeting on Friday to review pending cases. After that, the Supreme Court might decide at any moment whether to prohibit Mr. Graham’s testimony.