Sen. Lindsey Graham filed an emergency request to the Supreme Court on Friday to block a subpoena from a Georgia grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state.
The South Carolina Republican asked the high court to step in after a federal appeals court agreed on Thursday with a lower court ruling that the grand jury could compel him to testify.
Mr. Graham says his 2020 election efforts in Georgia were protected by the Speech or Debate Clause, a provision under the Constitution that protects members of Congress from lawsuits over legislative speech.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading the investigation, wants to question Mr. Graham about phone calls he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the weeks after the election.
Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, said Mr. Graham asked him whether he had the power to reject certain absentee ballots. He interpreted the question as Mr. Graham suggesting that he, as an election official, should toss out legally cast votes.
Mr. Graham said the interpretation is “ridiculous.”
In his filing with the Supreme Court, Mr. Graham said he needed the information for an “impending vote on certifying the election” and that he was “reviewing election-related issues” as part of his duties as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“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,” the filing states.
Furthermore, he said, his motives were irrelevant, given the Constitutional protections afforded to lawmakers.
“The district court’s and District Attorney’s apparent suspicions about motives are baseless, but even assuming otherwise, the Speech or Debate Clause was designed to prevent exactly this sort of examination,” he wrote. He added that a lower court was “wrong, also, to think that any other lines of hypothetical questioning would be permissible.”
He is requesting that the Supreme Court freeze the lower court order compelling him to testify until the legal challenges are settled.
Mr. Graham’s request was filed with Justice Clarence Thomas, who is likely to refer the case to the full court.
• Joseph Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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