A federal judge on Monday rejected an attempt by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to avoid testifying in the Georgia grand jury probe of former President Donald Trump's alleged interference in the 2020 election.
In a 22-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May said: "The Court finds that the District Attorney has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham's testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia's 2022 elections."
According to Politico, May's opinion sends the matter back to state courts for further proceedings.
Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis is heading the grand jury investigation that issued Graham's subpoena for an Aug. 23 interview.
The Palmetto State Republican claimed he was engaging in legitimate inquiries as a lawmaker under the Constitution's speech and debate clause when he reached out to Georgia state officials after the 2020 election.
"The Court finds that there are considerable areas of potential grand jury inquiry falling outside the Speech or Debate Clause’s protections," May said in his ruling. "Additionally, sovereign immunity fails to shield Senator Graham from testifying before the Special Purpose Grand Jury."
Citing court documents filed in support of the subpoena request, USA Today reports that Graham made at least two phone calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and members of Raffensperger's staff in the weeks after the November 2020 election, requesting additional review of the absentee ballots.
Graham maintains that he was trying to understand the process different states use to examine ballots and has denied allegations that he was coercing officials to exclude ballots.
"This is all politics," Graham's lawyers Bart Daniel and Matt Austin said last month, according to USA Today. "Fulton County is engaged in a fishing expedition and working in concert with the Jan. 6 committee in Washington."
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