South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is doing everything he can to avoid testifying to the special grand jury in Georgia investigating former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In his latest brief, filed Aug. 24, Graham reasons that the subpoena is invalid based on a rarely used section of the U.S. Constitution.
“The Constitution guarantees that a Senator ‘shall not be questioned’ about his protected ‘Speech or Debate’—and yet the District Attorney insists that Senator Graham must submit to questioning to ascertain whether he can be questioned or is immune from questioning. That makes no sense,” Graham’s motion reads.
Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis has written that Graham’s testimony is vital to interpreting “a multistate, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere,” The Washington Post reports.
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Graham has continued to claim that he’s protected by the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution, and although, as the Times reports, the legal maneuver has failed politicians in the past, it has put his testimony on hold temporarily.
In early August, Graham’s legal team requested that U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May of the Northern District of Georgia squash a subpoena forcing him to testify, but prosecutors pushed back against Graham’s attorneys, and May ultimately refused to quash the subpoena.
Graham’s new brief argues that he voted to certify the 2020 presidential election in favor of Joe Biden, but “given his obligations under the Twelfth Amendment and the Electoral Count Act,” he also “sought to educate himself and investigate various allegations regarding the 2020 election,” and so “spoke with numerous people, including election officials such as the Secretary of State of Georgia.”
And it’s because of this—Graham just doing his duty as a senator, he alleges—that Willis wants to question him.
The brief goes on to claim that Willis “should bear the burden of identifying the questions she wants to ask or, at a minimum, the specific topics she wants to cover,” adding that “if there is debate about whether those topics are permissible, she must offer evidence that those topics are not protected by the Clause.”
“To hold otherwise is to allow the District Attorney to evade the Speech or Debate Clause by requesting amorphous testimony and then, like a moving target, springing new or elaborated questions or issues on the Senator; the District Attorney, after all, is in the best position to know what she wants to ask (assuming this is not a disorganized fishing expedition),” per Graham’s brief.
In the end, Graham’s attorneys want his testimony quashed or, as the brief reads, “at least partially quash or modify the Subpoena to prohibit any questioning about the investigation and the motives behind it.”
CNN reports that Willis’ office was given until Monday to respond to Graham’s brief, and a reply from the senator was given a deadline of Aug. 31.
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