Lindsey Graham accused of ‘conduct that threatens the foundation of our republic’ by top government ethics expert
Lindsey Graham appears on Fox News (screen grab)

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) just faced his greatest fight for re-election by a top Democratic challenger. He won that battle and kept his seat on Election Day, but the Chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee is now facing a controversy so dangerous he could lose it.

"The allegation that the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee pressured the Georgia Secretary of State to throw out lawfully cast votes describes conduct that threatens the foundation of our republic by one of the government's most senior officials," says Walter Shaub, the former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics. "It must be investigated."

On Monday Georgia's Secretary of State accused Chairman Graham of pressuring him to throw out all ballots from certain counties. Graham denies he pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger but the Republican elections official told The Washington Post he was "stunned" when it happened.

Shaub adds that Graham's actions were "inherently coercive."

And he calls Graham's response "a damning admission":

Other legal or ethics expert are denouncing Graham's actions and calling for action.

"There is more than sufficient predication here to open a federal investigation," says former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now an MSNBC legal analyst and a law professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. "Georgians & all Americans deserve to know what happened, not just be left to speculate over a matter so serious."

Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner is calling for a grand jury investigation:

“For the chairman of the Senate committee charged with oversight of our legal system to have reportedly suggested that an election official toss out large numbers of legal ballots from American voters is appalling," says Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Executive Director Noah Bookbinder.

"Not only is it wrong for Senator Graham to apparently contemplate illegal behavior, but his suggestion undermines the integrity of our elections and the faith of the American people in our democracy," Bookbinder adds. "Under the guise of rooting out election fraud, it looks like Graham is suggesting committing it. That is unacceptable, and Senator Graham should step down from his chairmanship immediately.”

Voting rights expert Ari Berman says "Lindsey Graham should be expelled from the Senate for trying to subvert free & fair elections."

Senator Graham, who has a moderately active Twitter feed, hasn't tweeted since last week.