Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is asking a federal appeals court to overturn a lower court’s decision that forces him to testify before the Fulton County grand jury investigating actions by former President Donald Trump and his allies in the aftermath of his 2020 election loss in Georgia.
Mr. Graham, a Republican, wants the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to let his attorneys present oral arguments on why his phone calls with Georgia officials amounted to legitimate legislative activity and should be protected from legal scrutiny.
“This appeal presents important questions of constitutional immunity concerning whether (and, if so, to what extent) a local district attorney can compel a sitting United States senator to testify before a state special-purpose grand jury,” Mr. Graham’s attorneys wrote in court papers on Tuesday.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wants to hear from Mr. Graham because Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger reportedly came away from one call believing the senator wanted him to discard some ballots.
Mr. Graham says he never asked officials to throw away ballots and said his scrutiny of procedures was necessary because he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time and had to certify electoral votes as a member of Congress.
An Atlanta-based judge earlier this year ruled Mr. Graham must testify in Fulton County, saying there were “considerable areas of inquiry” that were not related to the senator’s legislative duties.
Mr. Graham’s attorneys say that is a backdoor excuse to find ways to ask about legislative activity that is protected by the Constitution’s “speech or debate clause,” alongside concepts known as “sovereign immunity” and the “high-ranking-official doctrine.”
“All three roads independently lead” to tossing out the judge’s order, Mr. Graham’s attorneys wrote.
While other key figures tied to Mr. Trump, including former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, have testified before the grand jury on post-election activities, Mr. Graham says he plans to fight the subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court.
• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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