The conflict between Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis took another sudden turn today as an appeals court reversed a decision by a lower court that Graham would be mandated to testify to the grand jury in Willis’ investigation into ex-president Donald Trump’s interference in the 2020 Georgia presidential election results.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Graham “doesn’t have to comply for now with a subpoena from an Atlanta grand jury demanding that he testify Tuesday about his role in an effort to pressure Georgia officials to change the results of the 2020 presidential election,” according to POLITICO.
The court’s decision went on to say:
“Graham’s attorneys and prosecutors for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis needed to flesh out arguments about whether Graham is entitled to have the federal courts place legal guardrails on the questioning Graham could face. The 11th Circuit panel’s order said that those arguments should be presented first to U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May.”
Senator Graham (R-SC) allegedly made several calls to Georgia election officials asking if legally cast absentee ballots could be “tossed out.”
MSNBC‘s Joyce Alene tweeted:
The 11th Circuit significantly delays Fani Willis' ability to take Lindsey Graham's testimony, remanding the case to the district court for it to decide if the subpoena can be quashed b/c of the speech & debate clause. This could be months, not weeks. pic.twitter.com/zlO5cjZ6Yc
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) August 21, 2022
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger testified before both the Georgia special grand jury and the House Select Committee investigating January 6th about two phone calls that he received from Sen. Graham in a full-court press attempt by Trump and his allies to swing the election results away from Joe Biden.
While Graham’s attorneys refute the testimony — claiming the U.S. Senator was simply “inquiring” about Georgia’s election protocols — Secretary Raffensperger taped a call with Trump, who asked him to find 11,780 votes in his favor to illegally flip the state.
The Circuit Court’s order referred arguments back to Judge May, who previously rejected Graham’s objections to testifying, citing the speech and debate clause of the Constitution. May wrote in her opinion:
“Senator Graham has unique personal knowledge about the substance and circumstances of the phone calls with Georgia election officials, as well as the logistics of setting them up and his actions afterward.”
“And though other Georgia election officials were allegedly present on these calls and have made public statements about the substance of those conversations, Senator Graham has largely (and indeed publicly) disputed their characterizations of the nature of the calls and what was said and implied. Accordingly, Senator Graham’s potential testimony on these issues … are unique to Senator Graham.”
May said the “District Attorney has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony,” for his role in efforts to influence Georgia’s “legal administration” of the election.
The 11th Circuit Court’s decision puts a temporary hold on the Fulton County DA Willis’ subpoena until the issue is debated in district court.
The good news is that while Graham’s testimony may be delayed and there may be some restrictions on what he can be questioned about, the South Carolina Trump ally will still have to eventually testify before the grand jury. Justice may be delayed, but it doesn’t look like it will be escaped.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick