The U.S. Supreme Court ordered U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham Tuesday to testify before the Fulton County special grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
The ruling vacated a temporary stay Associate Justice Clarence Thomas had granted Graham.
Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis subpoenaed Graham to testify about two phone calls he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger after Democrat Joe Biden carried Georgia in route to winning the presidency over Trump.
Graham’s lawyer filed a motion to quash the subpoena, arguing the senator was shielded by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause from being questioned about matters relating to legislative business.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, Graham maintained he made the calls as part of factfinding inquiries about mail-in voting and potential reforms to the process for counting Electoral College votes.
But U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May ruled the issues Graham raised with Raffensperger were political – not legislative – in nature.
Tuesday’s ruling gave Graham wiggle room to potentially avoid answering certain questions.
“The lower courts … made clear that Senator Graham may return to the district court should disputes arise regarding the application of the Speech or Debate Clause immunity to specific questions,” the ruling stated. “Accordingly, a stay or injunction is not necessary to safeguard the senator’s Speech or Debate Clause immunity.”
Willis has subpoenaed a long list of state and federal elected leaders and other government officials since convening the special grand jury last spring.
Witnesses who have testified include Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan; Raffensperger; state Rep. Bee Nguyen, D-Atlanta, who is running against Raffensperger; Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr; state Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta, who is running against Carr; U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro; and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.
Gov. Brian Kemp and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have been subpoenaed. While Meadows fights the subpoena in court, Kemp’s testimony has been delayed until after next week’s elections.
Willis had subpoenaed state Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. But Jones won’t have to testify after a court ruled Willis’ hosting of a fundraiser for Democrat Charlie Bailey, Jones’ opponent, constituted a conflict of interest.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.