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DA asks judge to deny Graham effort to quash Georgia subpoena

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Monday asked a judge to deny Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) efforts to quash a subpoena to appear before the Georgia special grand jury investigating attempts by former President Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election results in the state.

Graham was initially subpoenaed in early July but has dismissed the probe as politically motivated and filed a motion to quash the call to testify.

Willis lambasted Graham’s efforts, arguing in a filing that Graham’s challenge was “built on the shifting sands of erroneous legal arguments, inapplicable legal principles, and citations to caselaw that fail to support any legal point being made.”

U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May had denied Graham’s motion to quash the subpoena, but the South Carolina senator appealed and got a brief reprieve last week when a three-judge panel with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily paused the subpoena, pending further review.

The issue was sent to a district court to decide whether the subpoena should be modified or partially quashed.

Now, Willis is asking the court to deny Graham’s latest request and reject his arguments that his status as an elected official protects him from testifying.

“In this third iteration of Senator Graham’s arguments, just as in the prior two, there is no role for this court other than to serve as a rubber stamp for his own conclusions. Even in a motion purportedly requesting partial quashal, Senator Graham insists that each and every possible topic of grand jury inquiry is forbidden,” Willis wrote in a Monday filing.

“In so doing, the Senator ignores the facts that have been presented, the findings of this Court, and the historic limitations placed upon the Speech or Debate Clause by the Supreme Court.”

Graham has argued that he is protected from having to testify by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, which safeguards members of Congress from lawsuits and prosecution for things they say and do during their legislative work.

Willis counters that, though the investigation is interested in details including phone conversations between Graham and Georgia election officials, the subpoena does not require Graham to share any privileged information.

A key call of interest is a reported conversation between Graham and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) following Election Day in 2020.

“The Senator’s extreme position defies the facts, this Court’s holdings, Supreme Court precedent, and the interests of the public,” Willis wrote Monday in her request to deny Graham’s motion.

She has subpoenaed Graham along with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), and Trump-affiliated lawyers John Eastman, Jenna Ellis and Cleta Mitchell.

Giuliani was told he was a main focus of the probe and was questioned earlier this month after attempts by his lawyers to delay his testimony.

A judge on Monday denied a motion from Kemp to quash his subpoena, but did delay his testimony until after the November midterms.

“If we let county prosecutors start calling senators and members of Congress as witnesses when they’re doing their job, then you’re gonna throw out of kilter our constitutional balance here,” Graham said on Fox News’ “Sunday Night in America” this week.

He reaffirmed his intent to challenge the subpoena, saying “I’ve got a good legal case, I’m gonna pursue it.”

In denying Graham’s earlier motion to quash, district court judge May said “considerable areas” of the grand jury’s probe falls outside the clause’s protections and that Willis “has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2022 elections.”

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This story was originally published August 29, 2022 12:08 PM.

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