U.S. Supreme Court’s Thomas Temporarily Blocks Graham Election Case Testimony

Oct 24 (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday temporarily blocked a judge’s order compelling Senator Lindsey Graham to testify before a grand jury in Georgia as part of a criminal investigation into whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies illegally attempted to nullify the state’s 2020 election results.

Thomas put the case on hold pending further action by the judiciary or the full Supreme Court at the request of Graham, a South Carolina Republican and Trump ally, to halt the trial. witness order. Graham filed the emergency request with the Supreme Court on Friday after a federal appeals court denied his request to block the questioning.

Thomas acted in the case because he is court-appointed to handle emergency requests from an area that includes Georgia.

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Graham argued that his position as a senator gives him immunity under the “speech or debate” clause of the US Constitution from having to answer questions related to his actions in the legislative process.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis subpoenaed Graham to answer questions about phone calls he made to a senior Georgia election official in the weeks following the November 2020 election.

Atlanta-based U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May last month Shrunk the scope of questions Graham must answer from the grand jury, saying he is protected from having to discuss the “investigative inquiry” he has engaged in during his calls to election officials of State.

However, May said he could be asked about alleged efforts to encourage officials to reject ballots or alleged communications with the Trump campaign. May rejected Graham’s offer to avoid testifying altogether.

The 11th United States Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Atlanta, on Thursday declined to block Graham’s testimony pending an appeal.

Graham is not a target in the investigation, but his testimony could shed more light on coordination among Trump allies to reverse the election results.

The senator’s lawyers said in their request that the testimony “would unquestionably center on the official acts of Senator Graham – the phone calls he made in the course of his official business, prior to the critical vote under the the electoral count”.

Trump continues to appear at rallies repeating his false claims that Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election was stolen from him by widespread voter fraud.

The investigation was launched after Trump was recorded in a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call pressuring Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn the state’s election results based on unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud. During the phone call, Trump urged Raffensperger, another Republican, to “find” enough votes to overturn his Georgia loss to Biden.

The call transcript quotes Trump telling Raffensperger, “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” which is the number Trump needed to win Georgia. Trump denied any wrongdoing during the phone call.

Legal experts have said Trump’s phone calls may have violated at least three state election laws: conspiracy to commit voter fraud, criminal solicitation to commit voter fraud, and intentional interference with the performance of election duties.

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Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; Editing by Will Dunham

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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