A federal judge has rejected a motion from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) that would have allowed him to avoid testifying before a special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, which is investigating attempts by him and other allies to former President Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state.
Trump famously told Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — who is in charge of supervising elections in Georgia — to “find” him the exact number of votes needed to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in the state, threatening him and his legal counsel with the possibility of legal repercussions if they didn’t do so.
It is illegal in Georgia to try to coerce, command, threaten or otherwise attempt to get a state election official to engage in election fraud.
Graham faces similar questions regarding his involvement in trying to convince Georgia election officials to take actions that would overturn the certified election result on Trump’s behalf. In July, he was subpoenaed, alongside other Trump allies, to speak before a special grand jury assembled by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, but has thus far avoided doing so.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May rejected three arguments from Graham’s lawyers that were based on speech and debate protections, as well as protections asserted by the senator that supposedly granted him immunity from having to testify due to his position as a federal lawmaker.
“The Court finds 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,” May wrote in her decision.
In her briefing to the court, Willis asserted that Graham’s testimony to the special grand jury is needed due to the multiple calls he made to Raffensperger and his staff asking that they reexamine absentee ballots in order to “explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former president Donald Trump.”
Donald Wakeford, Fulton County’s chief senior assistant district attorney, reiterated the need to hear from Graham in his own brief.
“In the midst of an ongoing recount for the election of Senator Graham’s political ally, he called the official in another state charged with the supervising recount and suggested he change his methods,” Wakeford said.
Many believe that the Georgia investigation is the one most likely to result in an indictment against Trump or members of his inner circle. According to former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman, Trump and those loyal to him have “zero defense” for their attempts to change the election result following the former president’s loss to Biden in 2020.
“Once you look at what he said, trying to get Brad Raffensperger to come up with extra votes to make him a winner in Georgia, and put in the context about the January 6th committee has found, I think they have gotten a case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Akerman said in June.