Constitutional Law

Sen. Lindsey Graham must testify before Georgia grand jury, with some exceptions, 11th Circuit rules

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AP Lindsey Graham Sept 2022

Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina speaks during a news conference Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Mariam Zuhaib/The Associated Press.

Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina must testify about efforts to “cajole” or “exhort” Georgia election officials in connection with the 2020 election, a federal appeals court has ruled.

In an Oct. 20 opinion, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Atlanta ruled that Graham was unlikely to succeed on his claim that the speech and debate clause completely protects him from a subpoena issued by a Georgia grand jury investigating election interference.

The clause says for “any speech or debate in either house,” members of Congress “shall not be questioned in any other place.”

U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May of the Northern District of Georgia had ruled Sept. 1 that the clause prevented Graham from being questioned about informal legislative investigations. That means that he can’t be asked about inquiries that he made in calls to Georgia election officials in connection with his decision to certify election results, May said.

But the judge allowed questions about other conduct by Graham, including communications with the Trump campaign about post-election efforts in Georgia, statements about the 2020 election, and efforts to “cajole” or “exhort” Georgia election officials.

The 11th Circuit upheld May’s approach and said Graham can still raise concerns about any particular question. The three panel members who issued the opinion were Judge Charles R. Wilson, Judge Kevin C. Newsom and Judge Britt C. Grant. Newsom and Grant are appointees of former President Donald Trump, while Wilson is an appointee of former President Bill Clinton.

Hat tip to Law360, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, Axios and Politico, which had coverage of the opinion.

See also: “Top Texas court questions subpoena efforts by Georgia grand jury probing efforts to overturn 2020 election” “Rudy Giuliani is ordered to testify before Georgia grand jury probing attempts to overturn 2020 election”

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