ATLANTA (AP) — Sen. Lindsey Graham cannot postpone his appearance before a special grand jury investigating whether then-president Donald Trump and others attempted to illegally influence the 2020 elections in Georgia, a federal judge said Friday.
Earlier this week, US District Judge Leigh Martin May ordered Graham to comply with his grand jury subpoena. Graham’s attorneys appealed that order to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, asking May to stay his ruling while the appeal proceeds. May rejected that request in his order on Friday.
Graham is scheduled to appear Tuesday. But he still has another motion pending before the 11th Circuit to stay May’s ruling.
Graham’s representatives did not immediately respond to messages Friday seeking comment.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened the investigation early last year and in July filed petitions seeking testimony from seven Trump advisers and associates, including Graham.
Lawyers for the South Carolina Republican have argued that a provision of the US Constitution provides absolute protection against a senator being challenged on legislative action. But the judge found that there are “considerable areas of potential grand jury investigation” that fall outside the scope of that provision. The judge also rejected Graham’s argument that the principle of “sovereign immunity” protects a US senator from being subpoenaed by a state prosecutor.
Graham also argued that Willis, a Democrat, had failed to demonstrate the extraordinary circumstances necessary to obtain testimony from a high-ranking official. But the judge disagreed, finding that Willis had shown “extraordinary circumstances and a special need” for Graham’s testimony on issues related to an alleged attempt to influence or disrupt elections in Georgia.
Willis and his team have said they want to ask Graham about two phone calls they say he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff shortly after the 2020 general election. During those calls, Graham asked about “reexamining certain absentee votes cast in Georgia to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump,” Willis wrote in a petition.
Graham also “referenced allegations of widespread voter fraud in the November 2020 election in Georgia, consistent with public statements made by known affiliates of the trump campaign,” she wrote.
Republican and Democratic state election officials across the country, the courts and even Trump’s attorney general found there was not enough evidence of voter fraud to affect the election outcome.
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