A federal appeals court delivered a victory for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Aug. 21 by blocking a subpoena that had ordered him to testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating the 2020 election.
A three-judge panel with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued (pdf) a temporary injunction against the subpoena, sending the case back to a lower court. The district court will now have to determine whether the subpoena should be modified or quashed.
“This case is remanded to the district court for the limited purpose of allowing the district court to determine whether [Graham] is entitled to a partial quashal or modification of the subpoena to appear before the special purpose grand jury based on any protections afforded by the Speech or Debate Clause of the United States Constitution,” the ruling states.
“Following resolution of the partial-quashal issue on limited remand, the matter will be returned to this Court for further consideration,” it added.
U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May ruled several days ago that Graham had to testify before of the Fulton County grand jury in connection with former President Donald Trump’s election-related efforts in Georgia after the 2020 election.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who was criticized by a judge last month over her participation in a fundraiser against an individual she’s investigating, wrote in court filings that the grand jury required testimony from Graham on two calls he allegedly made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff following the 2020 election.
“During the telephone calls, the Witness questioned Secretary Raffensperger and his staff about reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump,” Willis wrote.
Graham’s attorneys previously argued that the senator shouldn’t be forced to testify because his actions were related to his activity as the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Senator Graham did not inject himself into Georgia’s electoral process, and never tried to alter the outcome of any election. The conversation was about absentee ballots and Georgia’s procedures,” Graham’s attorneys wrote (pdf) in a filing last month.
According to Graham and his attorneys, the subpoena would violate the Constitution’s speech and debate clause for legislators. Graham told Fox News weeks ago that those protections are absolute and that Congress members can’t be compelled to testify in small matters that would disrupt the legislative branch’s operations.
“What I’m trying to do is do my day job. If we open up county prosecutors being able to call every member of the Senate based on some investigation they think is good for the country, we’re opening Pandora’s Box,” Graham said.