Georgia prosecutors are asking the Supreme Court to clear the way for Lindsey Graham’s testimony



CNN

The Georgia prosecutor leading the investigation into efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to clear the way for Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify.

“The Fulton County Special Purpose Grand Jury intends to question Senator Lindsey Graham regarding certain activities related to the ongoing investigation into possible criminal activity surrounding the 2020 Georgia general election,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wrote in the new filing.

He insisted that Graham’s efforts to delay his testimony “would be irreparably prejudicial to the administration of the grand jury investigation” and would “prejudice the public interest in a timely and effective resolution.”

The filing comes in response to an emergency request made last week by the South Carolina senator asking judges to halt testimony while legal proceedings are pending. Graham argued that he was not required to comply with the subpoena because his testimony was precluded by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, which protects lawmakers from certain law enforcement actions for conduct related to their legislative duties.

If Graham prevails, critics fear it will prompt other members of Congress to make similar claims in an attempt to protect speech outside the protections of the Speech or Debate Clause. The clause states that “for any speech or debate in either house” members of Congress “shall not be asked elsewhere.”

Willis said he wants to question Graham about his calls to Georgia election officials after the 2020 election. The senator’s attorneys define “investigative phone calls” as calls made to promote a legitimate legal activity to report on his upcoming certification decision.

On Monday, Judge Clarence Thomas, who oversees the lower courts involved in the case, temporarily blocked the testimony. Thomas’ move was likely an administrative recess granted to give Supreme Court justices more time to consider the case. Thomas’ order also indicated that he would eventually vote on the case. His critics believe that he should be excluded from matters related to the recent election because of the political activities of his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas.

In the new filing, Willis argued that people on the calls publicly indicated they understood Graham to suggest or imply during the calls that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger should cast certain votes or accept procedures that would change the results. state elections

The lower courts said that as Graham made calls to Georgia election officials as part of the verification of President Joe Biden’s congressional credentials, that could be off limits under the Constitution.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit said that “communications and coordination with the Trump campaign about post-election efforts in Georgia, public statements about the 2020 election, and efforts to ‘incite’ or ‘solicit’ Georgia election officials.” Not legislative activities protected by the Speech or Debate Clause.

Willis is leading a special grand jury investigation into Trump-aligned efforts to manipulate the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. His investigation recently secured the grand jury testimony of former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and former White House adviser Pat Cipollone, CNN reported last week.