Lindsey Graham Forced To Testify In Criminal Election Meddling Probe

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The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to block a push for his testimony from Georgia’s Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is investigating pro-Trump election interference after the 2020 presidential race by former President Donald Trump and his allies.

The rejection, implicitly directing Graham to move forward with testimony for Willis, wasn’t signed by a specific judge, and there were no noted dissents. The court essentially upheld the conclusions of lower courts, where judges have found that Graham is shielded from questioning about legislatively oriented fact-finding by protections in the Speech or Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution — and that there is ample ground to cover in questioning that’s outside of those protections. Additional topics include communications with the Trump campaign, pressure on Georgia officials to alter their handling of elections, and public statements about the 2020 presidential race. Graham was looped into Willis’s probe through post-election communications with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he raised the prospect of discarding entire counties’ caches of mail-in ballots, per accounts of the call. Such a move would obviously mean throwing out valid votes.

Before the court rejected Graham’s push, Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees certain disputes arising from an appeals court that dealt with Graham’s challenge to his subpoena, put the testimony on hold. Thomas’s order was undone. “The lower courts assumed that the informal investigative fact-finding that Senator Graham assertedly engaged in constitutes legislative activity protected by the Speech or Debate Clause, U. S. Const. Art. I, §6, cl. 1, and they held that Senator Graham may not be questioned about such activities,” the court said. “The lower courts also made clear that Senator Graham may return to the District Court should disputes arise regarding the application of the Speech or Debate Clause immunity to specific questions. Accordingly, a stay or injunction is not necessary to safeguard the Senator’s Speech or Debate Clause immunity.”

In other words, there are already corresponding protections for Speech or Debate Clause concerns, and should individual points of contention arise, there are additional opportunities for settling the dispute, as the Supreme Court outlined it. Graham’s legal team previously said, relaying what Willis’s team indicated, that the Senator is a witness in the investigation, rather than a target of it. The latter category would imply the possibility of criminal charges. Rudy Giuliani, who was also part of Team Trump’s post-election pressure on Georgia officials, was only informed of his status as a target in the investigation days before his actual testimony, and Willis is seeking Graham’s testimony by the middle of November, after Election Day in the midterms. She has indicated that one of the points of interest around Graham’s testimony is the possibility his answers could reveal further lines of inquiry. For now, Willis instituted a slowdown on public investigative activity before the midterms to avoid the appearance of political meddling in the elections.