In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is pushing to obtain grand jury testimony from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) amid her ongoing investigation into pro-Trump election meddling in the state.
To that end, Willis filed a 29-page document in a Georgia federal court this week in which she undercut arguments Graham is making against a grand jury subpoena issued for him. On one front, Willis tore into a conveniently low-stakes explanation that Graham provided for interactions he had with Georgia elections officials after the last presidential election. As the district attorney’s new filing summarizes it, Graham alleged “he was only exploring a hypothetical when he questioned [Georgia Secretary of State Brad] Raffensperger about whether all the mail-in ballots from certain counties could be thrown out because of signature disparities” — although previously, Graham refused to even fully acknowledge what Georgia officials indicate he was suggesting (meaning the discarding of all mail-in ballots from counties with higher rates of rejections of the signatures submitted with the ballots).
“It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” Raffensperger himself remarked of Graham’s approach to the possibility of discarding what were legally cast votes. Graham also directly pushed in public remarks for Georgia officials to conduct an audit of the signatures submitted with mail-in ballots in the 2020 presidential race, furthering the clear portrait of his interest in such a thing. Graham’s “benign interpretation of his telephone conversations with Raffensperger and Sterling was not consistent with the two Georgia officials’ interpretations that [Graham] “implied for us to audit the envelopes, and then throw out the ballots for counties who has the highest frequency error of signatures,”” the district attorney’s filing said. The quote cited in the latter part of that section is from remarks Raffensperger made.
Willis also undercut the idea that Graham is protected from further scrutiny in relation to his communications with Raffensperger because of the portion of the Constitution known as the Speech or Debate Clause. Alongside other points, Willis said that clause generally protects actions taken in relation to actual proceedings in either chamber of Congress — not actions taken related to something that may come up, in some form, at some point in the future. Willis’s filing also outlines that the privileges allowed for members of Congress by the Speech or Debate Clause aren’t something that shields the member of Congress in their own right as the key interest driving that protection. It’s in the interest of constituents who need their representatives available to perform official duties and in the interest of actual legislative work in Congress — not Graham’s outside concerns.
In that new filing, Willis also ties the Senator’s actions to those Trump took, including the ex-president’s own call to Raffensperger, who he unsuccessfully pushed to “find” enough votes to flip Georgia, which Biden won. “Facially, [Graham’s] actions certainly appear interconnected with former President Trump’s similar efforts to pressure Georgia election officials into “finding 11,780 votes” and to spread Georgia election fraud disinformation,” Willis said. “Thus, [Graham’s] actions fall within the investigative purview of the special purpose grand jury to investigate and determine the facts of potential interconnectedness, which should include [Graham’s] sworn testimony (as opposed to cable news commentary) about the circumstances that spurred his telephone calls, with whom he consulted prior to the calls, what [he] sought and obtained by his conversation with the Georgia officials, and whom [Graham] consulted after Raffensperger declined his entries.” That’s evidently the list of key topics on which Willis is hoping to question Graham.
Criminal charges for somebody implicated by the Willis investigation are possible. Others under scrutiny include those involved in the effort in the state to assemble faked electoral votes for Trump and longtime Trump goon Rudy Giuliani. There’s a hearing related to the dispute over Graham’s subpoena scheduled for next Wednesday.