Aug. 21 (UPI) — A federal appeals court Sunday temporarily blocked an order requiring Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify about his role in an effort to alter Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a two-page ruling blocking the subpoena after a federal district judge in Atlanta rejected the effort by Graham, R-S.C., to avoid testimony before a special grand jury on the grounds that he is protected by the speech and debate clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The appeals court ordered Graham’s attorneys and prosecutors for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to expand their arguments and present them to U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May.
May on Friday denied Graham’s request to fully quash the subpoena, “primarily because there are multiple topics upon which Sen. Graham could face questioning that in no way implicate protective legislative activity under the speech and debate clause,” she wrote in her order.
She considered a “partial quash” of the subpoena during arguments held on Aug. 10 but said she would need to see more information to decide what areas of questioning would be appropriate under the federal protections.
Prosecutors have sought Graham’s testimony regarding a pair of phone calls he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he allegedly asked if about “examining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome” for then-President Donald Trump and whether the secretary of state “had the power to toss all mail ballots” in counties with poor signature match rates.
Graham’s lawyers argued that the calls were a “legislative act” and part of his congressional fact-finding duties and therefore protected under the speech and debate clause.
Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani testified before the grand jury on Wednesday following attempts to delay his appearance as his lawyers said recent surgery made it unsafe for him to fly to Georgia.
Prosecutors are also seeking testimony from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican who resisted Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s election results, but he has sought to quash the subpoena citing an upcoming challenge from Democrat Stacy Abrams in November’s general election.