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Supreme Court won’t excuse Graham from testifying in Georgia election probe

A call between the Republican senator and Georgia’s top elections official has caught the attention of a grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election. 

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Supreme Court refused Tuesday to let Republican Senator Lindsey Graham avoid testifying in a probe of efforts to help former President Donald Trump flip election results. 

Justice Clarence Thomas received the application from Graham and referred it to the entire court. With no noted dissents, the court this afternoon vacated a temporary pause and cleared the way for a Georgia grand jury to question the South Carolina senator concerning a phone call he made to Georgia’s top election official. In attempting to avoid testimony, Graham claimed his constitutional rights were on the line.

The court found otherwise. “A stay or injunction is not necessary to safeguard the Senator’s Speech or Debate Clause immunity,” its unsigned order states.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has subpoenaed Graham to testify before a grand jury about the senator’s phone call with Georgia’s top elections official after the 2020 election. Graham reportedly questioned Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the chat about the possibility of discarding or invalidating mail-in ballots. The call occurred on the same day that attorney Lin Wood brought a suit challenging Georgia’s signature verification procedures, and Graham is also said to have discussed with Raffensperger potential court challenges to defend Trump. 

Graham claims the call was concerning upcoming runoff elections and has refused to answer the jury’s questions. He insists the call was made under his legislative duties, and therefore his testimony would violate the Constitution’s speech and debate clause. 

Willis notes meanwhile that Graham already has immunity with regard to questions about his legislative activities. He says Graham has no reason not to testify before the grand jury. Willis also told the justices that Graham’s use of the speech and debate clause fails because it relates only to actual legislative actions. 

The court’s order is based off Graham’s previously granted immunity and says the senator can bring specific questions to the district court if disputes arise. 

A district court threw out Graham’s attempt to quash a subpoena for his testimony and declined to order a stay pending the senator’s appeal. Graham went to the high court after the 11th Circuit likewise refused to grant relief. 

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