Graham appeals order to testify in Georgia election probe

ATLANTA (AP) — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has formally appealed a judge’s order requiring him to testify before a special grand jury investigating whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia.

The South Carolina Republican’s appeal was expected after a judge ruled Monday that he complied with prosecutors’ efforts to force him to testify on Aug. 23 about his phone calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff in the weeks following the election.

The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals will consider Graham’s request, filed Wednesday night. Graham’s legal team also asked a federal judge to suspend his special grand jury appearance during the appeal process.

Graham’s appeal came on the same day another Trump associate, former campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani, spent about six hours before the special grand jury. The former New York mayor spread false claims of voter fraud in Fulton County while leading efforts to challenge election results in Georgia.

Greeted by an Associated Press reporter at the airport on his way back to New York on Wednesday, Giuliani said he had “fulfilled his obligation under the citation” from prosecutors, but did not elaborate on his testimony.

Fani Willis, Fulton County District Attorney has indicated she is interested in details of a phone call between Graham and Raffensperger shortly after the 2020 election. At the time, Raffensperger said Graham asked her if she had the power to reject certain absentee ballots and that she interpreted the asks as a suggestion to discard legally cast votes.

Graham also “referenced allegations of widespread voter fraud in the November 2020 election in Georgia, consistent with public statements made by known Trump Campaign affiliates,” Willis wrote in a court filing.

Graham has argued that the calls were part of his duties as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, with his legal team, which includes former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn, arguing that Graham’s position in Congress protects him from have to appear before the grand jury.

Willis opened his investigation into the post-election actions of Trump and his allies after the revelation of a remarkable phone call on January 2, 2021. between raffensperger and trump in which the then president suggested that the state official could “find” the exact number of votes it would take to change the results of the Georgia election.

Denying any wrongdoing, Trump described the call as “seamless.”

Meanwhile, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp had received a subpoena to appear before the special grand jury on Thursday. But his attorneys filed a motion Wednesday to vacate it, and Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said the governor does not have to appear while the motion is pending, Kemp’s spokeswoman Katie Byrd said. .

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Kinnard reported from Columbia, South Carolina, and can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.

More on the investigations related to Donald Trump: https://apnews.com/hub/donald-trump

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