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Sen. Lindsey Graham questioned in Georgia election investigation

Sen. Lindsey Graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Capitol Hill last Tuesday.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Sen. Lindsey Graham testified Tuesday before a special grand jury that’s investigating whether former President Trump and others illegally meddled in the 2020 election in Georgia.

The South Carolina Republican’s appearance before the panel came after a drawn-out legal fight that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court as Graham tried to avoid testifying. He had argued that his position as a senator shielded him from questioning. The courts rejected his assertion but did rule that prosecutors and grand jurors could not ask him about protected legislative activity.

Graham’s office said in a statement that he spent just over two hours with the special grand jury and “answered all questions.”

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“The senator feels he was treated with respect, professionalism and courtesy,” the statement said.

Fulton County Dist. Atty. Fani Willis launched the investigation early last year. It is considered one of the most significant potential legal threats to the former president, who last week announced a third run for the White House. Graham is one of a number of high-profile Trump allies whose testimony has been sought.

When Willis filed paperwork in July seeking Graham’s testimony, she wrote that she wanted to ask him about a phone call he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger shortly after the election.

Raffensperger has said Graham asked whether the secretary of state could reject certain absentee ballots, which Raffensperger said he interpreted as a suggestion to throw out legally cast votes. Graham has called that idea “ridiculous.”

Willis said in August that she hoped to be able to send the special grand jury home by the end of the year. But with some of the testimony she’s seeking tied up in appeals, that timeline could be complicated.

For witnesses who live outside Georgia, Willis has to rely on a process that involves getting a judge in a potential witness’ state to order that person to travel to Atlanta to testify.

Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who served briefly as national security advisor under Trump, had been ordered to testify Tuesday, but a Florida judge issued a provisional stay of that order after Flynn appealed. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had been ordered by a Virginia judge to testify Nov. 29, but that has also been stayed pending appeal. And an appeal of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ order to appear on Nov. 30 is pending before the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Former Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who previously testified before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, answered questions from the special grand jury last week.

Special grand jury proceedings are secret, but some related public court filings have shed light on the scope of the investigation.

From the start, Willis has said she is interested in a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Raffensperger. The outgoing president urged the state’s top elections official, a fellow Republican, to “find” the votes needed to reverse his narrow loss in the state to Democrat Joe Biden.

It has also become clear that Willis is interested in several other areas, including: the fake slate of GOP electors from Georgia who falsely declared that Trump had won the state; false statements made to state lawmakers about the election by Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani and others; efforts to pressure a Fulton County elections worker to admit wrongdoing; breaches of election equipment in rural Coffee County; and the abrupt departure of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta in January 2021.

Willis has notified Giuliani, who testified before the special grand jury in August, and the fake Georgia electors that they could face criminal charges in the investigation.

Special grand juries in Georgia are generally used to investigate complex cases with many witnesses. They can compel evidence and subpoena testimony from witnesses, but they cannot issue indictments. Once its investigation is complete, a special grand jury can recommend action, but it remains up to the district attorney to decide whether to then seek an indictment from a regular grand jury.


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