Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina recently asked the Supreme Court to intervene and shield him from having to testify before the grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump’s alleged interference in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
According to a report by CNN, Graham filed an emergency request after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Atlanta-based grand jury could compel his testimony, agreeing with a lower court decision.
While Senator Graham says his actions in Georgia following the 2020 election were protected by the United States Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, the appellate panel comprised of three judges found that “communications and coordination with the Trump campaign regarding its post-election efforts in Georgia, public statements regarding the 2020 election, and efforts to ‘cajole’ or ‘exhort’ Georgia election officials” are not protected under the Constitution.
Graham’s appeal was filed with Justice Clarence Thomas, overseeing the 11th Circuit. Thomas is expected to refer the matter to the entire court. The investigation into efforts by Trump and his supporters to affect the 2020 election results is being led by Fani Willis, Fulton County District Attorney.
According to a report by CNN, an hour-long phone call between Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Trump in January 2021 triggered the investigation. Allegedly, former President Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” the votes he needed to win the state. Graham asked the SCOTUS justices to stop the lower court order while legal challenges continued to unfold.
“This Court’s action is necessary to allow this appeal to be heard before it becomes moot — before, that is, Senator Graham suffers the constitutional injury this appeal is meant to avoid,” said the filing.
In the new court filing, Graham claims the information from Georgia officials should be protected by the Speech or Debate clause of the Constitution and was necessary to perform his legislative duties.
Graham said that as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the information was necessary for an “impending vote on certifying the election” as he is tasked with “reviewing election-related issues.”
“After the phone calls, Senator Graham relied on the information gained from the calls both to vote Joe Biden the ‘legitimate President of the United States’ and to co-sponsor legislation to amend the Electoral Count Act,” said the filing.
Justice Thomas temporarily freezes lower court order
Justice Clarence Thomas agreed to temporarily freeze a lower court order that would require the testimony of Graham before an Atlanta-area special grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
The temporary move is an administrative stay issued to allow the Supreme Court justices additional time to consider the dispute. The court has asked Georgia investigators for a response by Thursday.
Lower courts said that Graham was making calls to Georgia election officials as part of fact-finding leading up to the congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s presidential win, which may be considered out of bounds under the Constitution.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has maintained that “communications and coordination with the Trump campaign regarding its post-election efforts in Georgia, public statements regarding the 2020 election, and efforts to ‘cajole’ or ‘exhort’ Georgia election officials” are not legislative activities protected by the Speech and Debate Clause.”
According to a CNN report, the probe recently secured grand jury testimony of former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and former Georgia Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler.