The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a request from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to avoid testifying before a Georgia grand jury in a state criminal probe of Trump’s interference in the state’s 2020 election.
The order came without any dissents.
The Supreme Court did reiterate what lower courts held: that Graham can maintain limited, but significant secrecy about his actions in 2020.
Questions that he argues deal with issues around “legislative activity” can remain privileged, the court said — protected by the Constitution’s speech or debate clause. Because of that, the court said, halting the subpoena was “not necessary.”
Graham first appealed to Justice Clarence Thomas, who referred the matter to the full court.
The brief order also described Graham’s actions in 2020 as “informal investigative fact-finding.”
Graham’s activities in Georgia reportedly went further than simple research.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told the Washington Post that Graham suggested to him in a November 2020 phone call that he should throw out enough votes to ensure a Trump victory in the state.
“It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” Raffensperger said.
One day after major news organizations called the election for Biden, Graham went on Fox News and laid out his plans.
“If Republicans don’t challenge and change the U.S. election system, there will never be another Republican president elected again,” he said during the Nov. 8 appearance.
To the extent that Graham’s efforts involved research, that largely took place as part of a broader effort to supplement Trump’s bogus claims about nonexistent voter fraud in the election.
Raffensperger himself said on Jan. 4 that Graham had “asked us to throw out legally cast ballots.” Graham’s efforts to pressure him, he said, are what prompted his staff to record the infamous Jan. 2 phone call with Trump himself.
“So yeah, after that call, we decided maybe we should do this,” Raffensperger said, referring to the Graham call.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis reportedly began to examine Graham’s involvement in the effort in February 2021.
A state grand jury issued a subpoena for Graham’s testimony in July. The Supreme Court order means that Graham could testify as early as Nov. 17, his attorney said in recent filings.
Correction: Due to an editing error, this article misidentified the part of the Constitution containing the speech or debate clause.