The Democratic district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia — Fani Willis — has been investigating allegations that former President Donald Trump and others attempted to interfere in Georgia’s electoral processes following the 2020 election, and has been issuing grand jury subpoenas to compel testimony from various individuals and officials in that regard.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) received one of those subpoenas, but he has fought back against it in court with a motion filed to “quash” the subpoena and assert his immunity as a senator from being compelled to testify, The Hill reported.
Fulton County DA, grand jury, and judge demand Graham comply with a subpoena
The senator’s filed motion became necessary after a local judge in Fulton County ordered Graham to appear in person in the coming weeks and months to testify before the grand jury empaneled by the district attorney.
WSBTV reported Monday that Fulton County Superior Judge Robert McBurney determined that the “court finds that Lindsey Graham is a necessary and material witness” to the investigation by the district attorney and special grand jury.
At issue here are two alleged phone calls that Sen. Graham made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger or his staff in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election and amid the turmoil of accusations of election fraud in that and other states.
The outlet noted that the grand jury seeks to question Graham about allegations that he had told Raffensperger to start “reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump” — allegations that Graham flatly denies.
Graham cites his reasons for not being compelled to testify
According to Fox News, it was just one day after that order from the Fulton County judge that Sen. Graham filed the motion to quash the subpoena in the South Carolina court that had been directed by the Georgia court to force the senator to comply with the subpoena essentially.
Graham put forward three main arguments as to why he couldn’t be compelled by subpoena to testify before the Fulton County grand jury — the “absolute” protection of the Speech and Debate Clause for members of Congress; his sovereign immunity as a federal official; and that no “extraordinary circumstances” exist to override those first two protections.
In his 13-page motion, Graham wrote, “The Clause provides Senator Graham both an immunity and privilege in this context because the testimony sought relates to matters within the legislative sphere. Sovereign immunity also precludes the state court process against Senator Graham given the acts occurred within his official capacity. Moreover, the District Attorney cannot establish extraordinary circumstances to require his compelled testimony, interfering with Senator Graham’s official duties on behalf of the People of South Carolina.”
“Senator Graham did not inject himself into Georgia’s electoral process, and never tried to alter the outcome of any election. The conversation was about absentee ballots and Georgia’s procedures,” the motion noted, which would fall under Graham’s legislative duties, particularly as a top member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that deals with electoral process issues.
An “abuse of process” that, if allowed to stand, could open “Pandora’s Box”
Graham’s motion ultimately concluded, “The District Attorney’s attempts to compel Senator Graham to appear are an abuse of process. Her attempts to force Senator Graham to travel to Georgia for seven weeks during the middle of the Senate session is a gross overreach, especially given the immunity and privilege provided by the Speech or Debate Clause, and sovereign immunity.”
In a statement to Fox News about his filed motion to quash the subpoena, Graham said, “What I’m trying to do is do my day job. If we open up county prosecutors being able to call every member of the Senate based on some investigation they think is good for the country, we’re opening Pandora’s Box.”