Senator Graham gets temporary reprieve from witnesses in Trump Georgia probe

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (Reuters) – An appeals court has suspended US Senator Lindsey Graham’s scheduled testimony for Tuesday before a Georgia grand jury examining Donald Trump’s efforts to reverse the former president’s 2020 election defeat , with the case returning to a lower court for another look.

A federal judge on Monday had rejected Graham’s request for the subpoena to testify before the grand jury. Graham, a Republican, had argued that his position as a US senator earned him immunity from appearing before the investigative panel. read more

Sunday’s injunction by the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta comes as a temporary reprieve for Graham, who would otherwise have had to testify on Tuesday.

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A testimony from Graham, a close ally of Trump, could shed more light on Trump’s team’s coordinated effort to undo the 2020 results.

The appeals court gave Graham another chance to challenge the subpoena based on protections for lawmakers under the “speech or debate” clause of the US Constitution. That provision can protect legislators from the obligation to discuss legislative activity.

US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) questions Attorney General Merrick Garland (not pictured) during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Appropriations, at the Capitol in Washington, DC, US, April 26, 2022. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

“The court will expedite the parties’ briefing in such manner as it deems appropriate,” the order read on Sunday.

The grand jury wants to question Graham about at least two phone calls he made with Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff in the weeks following the November 2020 presidential election, in which Graham explored the possibility of re-examining the absentee ballots. according to prosecutors.

The Georgia probe is one of several legal issues facing the former president, whose Florida home was searched this month by federal agents and whose role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol is under separate investigation by a congressional panel.

Trump has falsely claimed that rampant voter fraud caused his loss in Georgia, a battleground where President Joe Biden’s victory propelled him to the White House.

The special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, is conducting a criminal investigation into alleged misconduct. Trump was included in a Jan. 2, 2021 phone call that pressured a top official to “find” enough votes to undo his loss to Biden in the state. He has denied any wrongdoing.

The grand jury had also subpoenaed members of Trump’s former legal team. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former personal attorney, testified before the special grand jury in Atlanta on Wednesday. read more

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Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Edited by Mike Scarcella, Mary Milliken and Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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