Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., asked the Supreme Court on Friday to halt a subpoena compelling him to testify in a Georgia county prosecutor’s criminal probe of potential interference in the 2020 election.
Graham’s request comes a day after a federal appeals court ordered him to testify in the grand jury investigation that has already ensnared Trump allies such as Rudy Giuliani.
On Thursday, the 11th Circuit US Court of Appeals shot down his arguments that he didn’t have to answer questions about two phone calls he made to Georgia election officials after the 2020 election because his actions were protected under the US Constitution’s speech and debate clause .
In a 33-page application sent to Justice Clarence Thomas, who handles emergency requests from the 11th Circuit, Graham’s lawyers on Friday asked for an immediate emergency stay.
“Without a stay, Senator Lindsey Graham will soon be questioned by a local Georgia prosecutor and her ad hoc investigative body about his protected ‘Speech or Debate’ related to the 2020 election,” the filing says.
It argues that the court needs to step in or else Graham’s “constitutional immunities will be lost, and his statutorily guaranteed appeal mooted, the moment the local Georgia prosecutor questions him.”
Thomas can decide the issue himself, or refer the matter to the full court.
The grand jury in Georgia was agreed earlier this year to assist Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation into possible 2020 election interference by former President Donald Trump and others. It has already interviewed a number of high profile Trump allies such as Giuliani and Trump lawyer John Eastman, who both helped push his fraudulent election claims from him.
The grand jury wants to question Graham about the circumstances of two phone calls he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his office after the election. Raffensperger, the top elections official in the state, has said Graham pressed him about whether he had the power to reject certain absentee ballots, which Raffensperger interpreted as a suggestion to toss out legally cast votes. Graham has denied that it was his intention, and said the calls were “investigatory” and part of his duties as then-chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Judges at both the state and federal level have found that Graham’s claims that he’s immune from questioning about the calls are overbroad. The appeals court ruling Thursday agreed with a lower court that determined Graham should be able to answer some key questions from the grand jury, including whether he consulted with Trump’s campaign before making the calls.
The 11th Circuit said the categories of questioning laid out by the lower court “could not qualify as legislative activities under any understanding of Supreme Court precedent,” and investigators could ask Graham about them.
Willis’ office declined to comment on Graham’s request for the Supreme Court to intervene.