Fulton County DA Fani Willis asks Supreme Court not to block Graham’s testimony

Georgia prosecutors told the Supreme Court on Thursday to protect senators. Lindsey O. Graham testified in a grand jury investigation into possible attempts by President Donald Trump and his allies to disrupt the state’s 2020 presidential election, which could seriously disrupt the investigation.

Fulton County District Attorney Fanny Willis said in a court filing that the lower court that ordered the South Carolina Republican to testify has protected him from answering any constitutionally protected questions about his duties as a senator. The problem.

If Graham were allowed to recuse himself from testifying altogether, the grand jury “would be barred indefinitely from seeking unique information, analyzing any resulting evidence, or using the senator’s testimony to explore other valid avenues of investigation,” Willis wrote. .”

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Last week, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit unanimously rejected Graham’s attempt to block Willis’ subpoena.

On Monday, Judge Clarence Thomas, assigned to the 11th Circuit’s emergency request, issued an interim order saying Graham did not have to testify As his petition to the Supreme Court moves forward.

Thomas could rule on the emergency petition himself, but the entire Supreme Court seems likely to decide the issue.

A grand jury investigating alleged interference in the 2020 presidential election has asked senators to testify on Nov. 11. 17. Jurors have heard testimony from several Trump lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and Boris Epshteyn. A judge said this week that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows must also testify. The grand jury’s term expires in April.

Graham will be called to testify about his phone call with Georgia election officials shortly after Trump lost to Joe Biden. Prosecutors said Graham had a “unique knowledge” of Trump’s campaign and “coordinated multi-state efforts to influence the outcome of the election” in Georgia and elsewhere.

Graham has said his actions are legitimate legislative activity protected by the Constitution’s “speech or debate clause.” Lawyers for the senators said they had been told Graham was a witness in the investigation, not a target.

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Last month, a district court judge said prosecutors could not challenge Graham over part of his legislative fact-finding call. But the judge said Willis’ team could explore coordination with the Trump campaign in Georgia’s post-election work, public statements about the 2020 election and any efforts to “coax” or “coach” Georgia election officials .

In last week’s order, the 11th Circuit panel agreed with the lower court judge that the actions “do not qualify for legislative activity by any understanding of Supreme Court precedent.” Two of the panel’s three judges were nominated by Trump.

Willis writes that Graham’s petition to the Supreme Court “disregards lower court rulings showing that his rights are not threatened, let alone at risk of ‘irreparable harm.'” In an unusual situation, Senator Graham failed to take up his responsibilities and his application should be denied. “

The district attorney wrote that if the Supreme Court grants Graham’s request, the delay will ensure “information that would clear innocent suspects or increase scrutiny of guilty persons will remain beyond the reach of grand juries.”

The Supreme Court has not said when it might rule on Graham’s request.

Tom Hamburger contributed to this report.

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