Lindsey Graham to testify in Georgia grand jury election probe


ATLANTA — After months of failed legal challenges, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) appeared Tuesday before a special grand jury investigating efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Trump’s 2020 election defeat in Georgia , the latest high-profile witness in an investigation believed to be close to its conclusion.

A sheriff said Graham entered the courthouse around 8 a.m.

A spokesman for Graham did not respond to a request for comment on the grand jury proceedings, which are legally confidential. A spokesman for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Graham’s testimony follows a long-running legal challenge He was blocked from appearing all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which this month refused to overturn a lower court ordering him to appear.

The South Carolina Republican and Trump confidant was first subpoenaed in July by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, which sought to make allegations Graham gave Georgia Secretary of State James Bullard in the weeks after the 2020 election. • Brad Raffensperger (Brad Raffensperger) and other questions. election-related issues.

Trump personally urged Ravensberger to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat in the state, which Biden won by less than 12,000 votes. Trump has insisted that the election there was rigged, even though multiple legal investigations have turned up no evidence.

Raffensperger later told The Washington Post that he felt pressure from other Republicans, including Graham, who he said echoed Trump’s claims of voting irregularities in the state. He claims Graham appeared on a call to find a way to put legal votes on hold.

Graham and his lawyers strongly disputed that characterization, describing the senator’s interactions with Ravensperger as an “investigative call” aimed at informing him about whether he voted to certify Biden’s election and inform other Senate efforts. decision making.

In court documents, Graham claimed his actions were legitimate legislative activities protected by the constitution’s “speech or debate clause” and that he should not be required to answer grand jury questions.

In September, U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May ruled that Fulton County prosecutors could not question Graham about parts of the call involving legislative fact-finding.

But May cleared the way for prosecutors to question Graham about his coordination with the Trump campaign’s post-election work in Georgia. The judge also said Graham could also be questioned about his public statements about the 2020 election and “any alleged ‘coaxing’ or encouragement” of Georgia election officials “to abstain from voting or otherwise alter Georgia’s election practices and program” efforts.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit later upheld the lower court’s decision. The Supreme Court rejected Graham’s final appeal this month, paving the way for him to appear in court this week. Graham’s attorney said he was told he was a witness, not a target, in the Fulton County investigation.

As Graham testified, the grand jury’s work appeared to be drawing to a close. Jurors heard testimony from several Trump attorneys, including Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and Boris Epshstein. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (right), who appeared before a jury last week, also unsuccessfully dismissed a subpoena in the case.

District Attorney Fani T. Willis is also seeking testimony from other prominent Trump advisers, including Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows; former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. All three continue to pursue legal efforts to have their subpoenas dismissed — and ongoing appeals could drag out the proceedings.

The 23-member grand jury has until May 2023 to meet. But Willis said earlier this year that she hoped the group would finish its work by the end of the year. The panel has no authority to prosecute, but will make recommendations in a report to Willis, who will then weigh possible charges.

During a court hearing in Florida last week where Flynn contested his subpoena, Assistant Fulton County District Attorney Will Wooten told the judge that “virtually no” witnesses remained.

“This grand jury probably won’t hear any more testimony,” Wooten said, according to CNN.

Bailey reported from New Orleans and Brown from Atlanta. Ann E. Marimow and Tom Hamburger contributed to this report.

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