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Graham asks for Supreme Court shield against Georgia election probe

The Republican senator says his position protects him from testifying.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Senator Lindsey Graham asked the Supreme Court on Friday to block his testimony before a Georgia grand jury investigating attempts to overturn 2020 election results showing Donald Trump lost in the state. 

A federal appeals court ordered the South Carolina Republican to testify in the probe on Thursday. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wants Graham to answer questions related to calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top elections official. 

Graham asked the high court to stay the 11th Circuit’s ruling while his appeal moves forward. 

Willis wants Graham to answer questions before a special grand jury focused on unlawful actions regarding counting votes in Georgia during the 2020 election. While Graham is not a target of the special grand jury, the district attorney filed a petition to obtain his testimony as a material witness to efforts hoping to disrupt the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. 

At the heart of Graham’s involvement are two calls made to Raffensperger and his staff. Graham listed the outcome of these calls when voting to certify Joe Biden as president. 

Graham’s application before the high court refers to the probe as an “ad hoc investigative body” and claims he would be forced to answer questions protected by the Constitution. Graham claims the phone calls at the center of the investigation fall under his legislative duties. 

“[Questions] will undisputedly center on Senator Graham’s official acts — phone calls he made in the course of his official work, in the leadup to the critical vote under the Electoral Count Act,” Donald McGahn, former Trump White House counsel and current attorney with Jones Day representing Graham, wrote in the application. 

Graham was subpoenaed by the district attorney’s office. To avoid testifying, Graham claimed doing so would violate the Constitution’s speech and debate clause. The district court ruled against Graham and the 11th Circuit affirmed. 

Without a stay, Graham says his appeal will be moot because he will be forced to answer investigators' questions. 

“This application thus presents an overwhelming case for a stay,” McGahn wrote. “For one thing, Senator Graham’s constitutional immunities will be lost, and his statutorily guaranteed appeal mooted, the moment the local Georgia prosecutor questions him. Although the prosecutor says that ‘Senator Graham has a right to an appeal’ and ‘should be free to pursue it,’ Senator Graham will not be free to pursue it if this Court does not intervene.” 

Graham’s application was submitted the Justice Clarence Thomas, who handles petitions for the 11th Circuit. It is not clear when or if the court will respond to the application. 

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