Graham, seeking to quash subpoena, denies election meddling

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham wasn’t looking to interfere in Georgia’s 2020 election when he called state officials asking them to reexamine certain absentee ballots after a narrow defeat. of President Donald Trump to Democrat Joe Biden, his lawyers said in a federal court filing.

Graham’s lawyers presented the argument as part of efforts to fight a citation forcing the South Carolina Republican to testify before a special grand jury in Georgia that is investigating the actions of Trump and his allies after his 2020 election loss.

“Senator Graham has never meddled in the electoral process in Georgia and has never attempted to alter the outcome of any election,” Graham’s attorneys wrote Tuesday in court papers filed in South Carolina. “The talk was about absentee ballots and Georgia procedures.”

Graham was one of a handful of Trump confidants and attorneys named in petitions filed last week by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis as part of her investigation into what she said was “a coordinated plan to several states of the Trump campaign to influence the results”. of the November 2020 elections in Georgia and elsewhere.”

In his subpoena request, Willis wrote that Graham, a longtime Trump ally, made at least two phone calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and members of his staff in the weeks after Trump’s defeat. to Biden, asking about reexamining certain absentee ballots “to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump.”

After your call, Raffensperger told The Washington Post that Graham had asked if he had the power to reject certain absentee ballots, a question the official said he interpreted as Graham’s suggestion to throw out legally cast votes, an accusation Graham at the time called “ridiculous.”

Willis also filed petitions demanding the cooperation of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was one of Trump’s top lawyers during the failed attempts to overturn the election result, as well as attorneys Kenneth Chesebro, Cleta Mitchell, Jenna Ellis , John Eastman and Jackie Pick Deason.

Graham’s attorneys argued in the legal filing that he has “sovereign immunity” from state court proceedings related to his work as a senator, as well as constitutional protection because “the testimony sought relates to matters within the legislative realm.” They asked the federal judge in the case to vacate Graham’s subpoena.

“What I am trying to do is do my day job,” Graham said in a statement provided to The Associated Press on Wednesday. “If we allow county prosecutors to be able to call every member of the Senate based on some investigation that they think is good for the country, we will open Pandora’s box.”

Willis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Because she’s trying to get testimony from people who live outside of Georgia, Willis had to file petitions for a judge’s approval. The judge overseeing the special grand jury approved their requests.

A judge in Graham’s home state will determine whether he is a “material and necessary witness,” whether traveling to Atlanta to testify would be an undue burden, and whether the subpoena should be issued.

The judge assigned to consider Graham’s filing, US District Court Judge Timothy M. Cain, was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2011, with Graham’s support. At the time, Graham said Cain “possesses a great combination of intellect, integrity, common sense and judicial demeanor” and said he “couldn’t be more proud” of the nomination.

In private practice before Cain became a family court judge, he and Graham worked together as legal partners for several years in Oconee, Graham’s home county.


Meg Kinnard can be reached at


Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.


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