COLUMBIA, South Carolina (AP) — U.S. Senator.Lindsey Graham A federal appeals court said Thursday it must testify before a special grand jury investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and others illegally sought to influence Georgia’s 2020 election.
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit paves the way for Fulton County District Attorney Fanny Willis to bring Graham for questioning.she wanted to ask the South Carolina Republican About his call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffinsburg weeks after the election.
Ravensberg says Graham asked him if he had power Reject some absentee ballots, which Rafensberg sees as a proposal to forgo legal voting. Graham dismissed this explanation as “ridiculous”.
Graham can appeal the ruling to an appeals court. Graham’s lawyers on Thursday deferred comment to a spokesman for the senator’s office, who had no immediate comment on the ruling.
Graham challenges his subpoena, saying his position as a U.S. senator protects him from having to testify in state investigations. He also denies wrongdoing. In the six-page order, the judge wrote that Graham “failed to show that the practice would violate his rights under the speech and debate clause.”
Willis investigates Early last year, shortly after a recording of a January 2021 call between Trump and Rafensberg was made public. During that call, Trump suggested that Raffinsburg could “find” the votes needed to overthrow him in a narrow loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
Willis asks for a special grand jury, saying the panel’s subpoena powers would allow for questioning of those who do not cooperate with the investigation.She has since made several rounds of court filings in an attempt to pressure close Trump advisers and colleagues to testify.
Some of those colleagues include former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who testified before a special grand jury, and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss private appearances, according to a person familiar with Cipollone’s testimony. Cipollone’s appearance was first reported by CNN.
Cipollone vehemently resisted efforts to cancel the election and said he did not believe there was enough fraud to sway the outcome of a race won by Biden.
Graham was among the first to have close ties to Trump, and Willis attempted to testify in a batch of petitions filed with the court in early July. He challenged his subpoena in federal court, but U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May refused to waive his subpoena. Graham then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
Graham’s lawyers argue that speech or debate clause of U.S. ConstitutionProtect a congressman from answering questions about legislative activity and protect him from testifying. He argues that his call for the Ravensberg fare is protected because he asks questions to inform his decision about voting to justify the 2020 election and future legislation.
Lawyers for Willis’ team argued that Graham’s comments in a news interview at the time, as well as Raffinsburg’s statement, suggested the senator was motivated by politics rather than legislative fact-finding.
They also argued that the scope of the special grand jury’s investigation included a variety of other topics unrelated to Ravensberg’s call. They also want to ask Graham about the Trump campaign’s briefings, including whether he was briefed on the Trump-Ravensberg call and whether he was briefed on the Trump-Ravensberg call and whether he had spoken with Trump and his campaign about overthrowing Georgia and other Efforts to communicate or coordinate local election results.
Graham’s lawyers also argued that the doctrine of “sovereign immunity” protects U.S. senators from being subpoenaed by state attorneys.
Graham’s lawyers argued that his status as a “senior official” protected him from testifying even if the speech or debate clause or sovereign immunity did not apply. They argued that this was because Willis failed to prove that his testimony was essential and that the information he would provide was not available from others.
In Thursday’s ruling, the appeals judge ruled that Willis “may be asked about non-investigative conduct within the scope of the subpoena” but “may not be asked about any investigative conduct,” noting that Graham could then point to any issues in specific areas or his Ask questions.
Others have already appeared before a special grand jury. Former New York mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was told he could face criminal charges in the investigation, testified in August. Lawyers John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro also appeared before the panel.
Paperwork has been submitted to seek testimony from othersIncluding former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP
Associated Press writers Kate Brumback in Atlanta and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.