ATLANTA – U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has been ordered to testify before the Fulton County special grand jury investigating attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

This story also appeared in Capitol Beat News Service

The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Graham is not shielded as a member of Congress from testifying about matters that don’t directly involve legislative business.

Graham received a subpoena in July to answer questions about two phone calls he allegedly made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger after Democrat Joe Biden carried Georgia on his way to winning the presidency over Republican incumbent Donald Trump.

Graham’s lawyer filed a motion to quash the subpoena, arguing the U.S. Constitution shields members of Congress from being questioned about matters relating to legislative business.

As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, Graham said he made the calls in pursuit of legislative factfinding about mail-in voting and potential reforms to the process for counting Electoral College votes.

After U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May ruled in August that the issues Graham raised with Raffensperger were political – not legislative – in nature, Graham took the case to the appellate court.

On Thursday, a three-judge appellate panel sided with the district court.

“Senator Graham has failed to demonstrate that this approach will violate his rights under the [Constitution’s] Speech and Debate Clause,” the appellate court wrote.

“As the [district] court determined, there is significant dispute about whether his phone calls with Georgia election officials were legislative investigations at all.”  

The list of witnesses who have testified before the special grand jury since Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis launched the probe includes Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, state Attorney General Chris Carr, Raffensperger, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice of Greensboro, and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston.

Gov. Brian Kemp was subpoenaed but won’t have to testify until after the Nov. 8 election.

A court ruling prohibited Willis from questioning state Sen. Burt Jones, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, after Willis hosted a fundraiser on behalf of Charlie Bailey, Jones’ Democratic opponent in the lieutenant governor’s race.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams/Capitol Beat

Dave Williams is bureau chief for Capitol Beat News Service, a service of the Georgia Press Education Foundation.