For the second time this week a federal judge has denied U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham‘s attempt to evade a grand jury subpoena requiring him to testify in the investigation of Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, calling his legal argument “unpersuasive.”
U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May Friday afternoon responded to Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis’ request to order the GOP Senator from South Carolina to appear before the Special Purpose Grand Jury (SPGJ).
“Senator Graham’s arguments are entirely unpersuasive,” Judge May writes, as Politico’s Kyle Cheney notes, “and they do not even demonstrate a ‘substantial case on the merits.’ As an initial matter, Senator Graham takes issue with the Court’s recognition that his sole request-to quash the subpoena in its entirety–was built largely (if not entirely) on the premise that Senator Graham will only be questioned about the phone calls, which Senator Graham characterizes as legitimate legislative factfinding exercises and thus completely protected by the Speech or Debate Clause.”
“Instead, Senator Graham maintains that he believes that the ‘other topics’ will simply be used as a ‘backdoor’ for questioning him about the phone calls,” the judge adds. “The problem for Senator Graham is that the record thoroughly contradicts his suggestion that the District Attorney and grand jury simply wish to use questions on other topics as a ‘backdoor’ to asking him about the legislative fact-finding on the phone calls.”
Judge May found Sen. Graham had “no basis” to claim he should not be ordered to testify, and ordered him to testify on August 23.
“The Court finds no basis for concluding that its holdings as to these issues are likely to be reversed on the merits,” Judge May wrote. “Holding otherwise would allow any sitting senator to shield all manner of potential criminal conduct occurring during a phone call merely by asserting the purpose of the call was legislative fact-finding-no matter whether the call subsequently took a different turn.”
Graham still has other avenues to use to try to evade the lawful subpoena.
As Politico’s Kyle Cheney, who broke this development notes, “the question of a stay rests with the appeals court, which received Graham’s case yesterday.”
Judge May appears to strongly agree with DA Willis’ assessment. The judge writes, “the public interest is well-served when a lawful investigation aimed at uncovering the facts and circumstances of alleged attempts to disrupt or influence Georgia’s elections is allowed to proceed without unnecessary encumbrances.”
In her motion Friday morning Willis wrote, “Senator Graham insists that he seeks to delay his appearance before the Special Purpose Grand Jury not just for his own sake, but also for the sake of the separation of powers, federalism, and ‘for the People.’”
“The Special Purpose Grand Jury, however, is the People,” Willis eloquently explained, “a collection of citizens called together to perform their civic duty on behalf of their neighbors and families. They have sacrificed their time, effort, energy, and attention for months in order to investigate matters that affect themselves, their community, and the nation as a whole. The District Attorney asks that this Court deny Senator Graham’s motion in order that he, for a single day, can assist them in that great task without further delay. The People have requested Senator Graham’s testimony and stand ready to receive it. All that is left is for the Senator to meet them.”