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Subpoena of Sen. Graham on election efforts stayed by high court

Justice Clarence Thomas signed off on the relief for the Republican ally of former President Trump, putting a Georgia grand jury’s subpoena on ice.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Senator Lindsey Graham won a Supreme Court stay Monday of a subpoena that would compel him to testify in an investigation of efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia after then-President Donald Trump lost a second term.

Justice Clarence Thomas signed the order, which temporarily delays the subpoena with no time frame of when he or the full court will reach a final decision regarding Graham’s testimony.

Graham only requested the stay on Friday, facing a notice to appear on Nov. 17 before a Georgia grand jury investigating Trump’s attempts to overturn 2020 election results.

The grand jury is investigating specifically the pressure that Trump put on Georgia officials to overthrow Biden’s victory in the state, and “find” votes that supported a Trump win. While Graham is not a target of the special grand jury, the district attorney considers the South Carolina Republican a material witness. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has said he wants Graham to explain two phone calls around the time of the election to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top elections official, and his staff.

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

“[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, an attorney with Jones Day representing Graham, wrote in the application. McGahn, former Trump White House counsel, did not immediately respond for comment Monday.

A federal judge ruled against Graham previously, and the 11th Circuit affirmed Thursday. When the senator asked the high court to stay the appeals court’s ruling, the application was submitted to Thomas, who handles petitions for the 11th Circuit.

The Supreme Court stay will extend the time that McGahn and prosecutors have to file briefs in this case as to whether the subpoena should go forward.

A spokesman for Fulton County District Attorney Willis did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

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