ATLANTA (AP) — Sen. Lindsey Graham cannot postpone his appearance before a special grand jury investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and others unlawfully attempted to influence the US election. 2020 in Georgia, a federal judge ruled Friday.
Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May ordered Graham to honor his grand jury subpoena. Graham’s attorneys appealed that order to the 11th United States Circuit Court of Appeals and asked May to stay his decision while that appeal proceeds. May declined that request in her order on Friday.
Graham is currently scheduled to appear on Tuesday. But he still has another motion to suspend May’s decision pending before the 11th Circuit.
Representatives for Graham did not immediately respond to messages Friday seeking comment.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened the investigation early last year and in July filed motions to compel seven Trump advisers and associates, including Graham, to testify.
Lawyers for the South Carolina Republican argued that a provision of the US Constitution provides absolute protection against a senator questioned on legislative acts. But the judge found there are “considerable areas of potential grand jury inquiry” that fall outside the scope of that provision. The judge also rejected Graham’s argument that the principle of “sovereign immunity” protects a US senator from being summoned by a prosecutor.
Graham also argued that Willis, a Democrat, failed to demonstrate the extraordinary circumstances necessary to compel testimony from a senior official. But the judge disagreed, finding Willis had shown “extraordinary circumstances and a special need” for Graham’s testimony on matters related to an alleged attempt to influence or disrupt the Georgia election.
Willis and his team said they wanted to ask Graham about two phone calls they allegedly made with Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff shortly after the 2020 general election. During those calls, Graham asked to “re-examine certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump,” Willis wrote in a petition.
Graham also “referenced allegations of widespread voter fraud in Georgia’s November 2020 election consistent with public statements made by known Trump campaign affiliates,” she wrote.
Republican and Democratic state election officials across the country, the courts, and even Trump’s attorney general found there was no evidence of voter fraud sufficient to affect the election outcome.
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