Atlanta area prosecutor says Sen. Graham’s testimony crucial in criminal investigation
Graham formally appealed a judge’s order compelling him to testify on Tuesday. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) expressed interest in questioning Graham about conversations he had following the 2020 election with Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), among others.
Graham’s lawyers called Willis’ investigation a fishing expedition and said his contacts with Raffensperger were consistent with his duties as a senator.
The U.S. District Judge who issued the order, Leigh Martin May, denied Graham’s request for a stay on Friday as well as his request for an emergency hearing.
“Senator Graham’s arguments are completely unconvincing, and they do not even demonstrate a ‘substantial case on the merits,'” the judge wrote.
Whether Graham testifies is up to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, after the senator filed an appeal on Wednesday.
In the filing, Willis’ office seeks to overturn Graham’s argument as to why he is entitled to a delay.
“Senator Graham insists that he is seeking to delay his appearance before the special purpose grand jury not only for his own good, but also for the good of the separation of powers, federalism and ‘for the people'” , indicates the folder. “The special-purpose grand jury, however, is the people: a collection of citizens brought together to perform their civic duty on behalf of their neighbors and families. … The District Attorney asks this Court to deny Senator Graham’s motion that he may, for a single day, assist them in this great task without further delay.
Democrat Joe Biden won Georgia by nearly 12,000 votes, toppling the state after a long run of Republican presidential victories.
Willis’ investigation began after reports that Trump and his allies had called Georgia officials seeking to overturn state election results. It has expanded to include efforts to send the names of Trump voters in several states to Washington in hopes of delaying or stopping certification of a Biden electoral victory.
Willis named Graham, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as part of her investigation into what she said was “a coordinated, multi-state plan by the Trump campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and somewhere else”.
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As Graham continues his efforts to kill his subpoena, a congressman who has previously raised similar objections, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), testified before the grand jury for more than two hours on Wednesday.
“The congressman has already provided his testimony,” said his attorney, Chris Gober. “We do not anticipate that the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office will ask us for additional information. We expect our client’s role in this process to be complete. Gober declined to provide details.
Like Graham, Hice had sought to kill a subpoena citing the constitutional protections of the speech or debate clause. The judge who heard Graham’s request, Leigh Martin May of the Northern District of Georgia, denied Hice’s motion. Hice is a Trump ally who echoed false allegations of widespread voter fraud after the 2020 election and in his failed bid for Georgia’s secretary of state.
Related arguments by two state Republicans — Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and former state senator William Ligon — also failed in state court. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney wrote that any statutory protections end with “the authority of the grand jury to examine witnesses about possible criminal election interference by others.”
Willis requested a special grand jury this year. It began meeting in June and has identified over 100 people of interest. The panel heard testimony from Raffensperger and his team, Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr (R), state lawmakers and local election officials.
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On Wednesday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared for six hours before a grand jury, the most prominent member of Trump’s inner circle to appear before grand jurors. Giuliani had been informed this week that he was under investigation.
It’s unclear what Giuliani said during his closed-door appearance.
Separately, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) filed a 121-page motion Wednesday night, alleging the full investigation was being pursued “for improper political purposes” and asking the court to kill a subpoena demanding his testimony later this month.
Matt Brown in Georgia contributed to this report.