Justice Thomas Temporarily Blocks Graham Subpoena in 2020 Election Probe

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has temporarily blocked a subpoena from an Atlanta grand jury seeking testimony from South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. The probe is investigating allegations of potential “criminal efforts” to overturn the 2020 election.

“Graham filed the emergency request Friday, one day after a federal appeals court ruled that he must testify. He is one of several Republicans accused of pressing Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to reverse Trump’s 2020 election loss in the state. He has argued that his post-election efforts in Georgia count as legislative activity and that they are protected from these types of investigations,” Axios reported.

“The three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and a lower district court judge said a narrowed scope of questioning by the jury wouldn’t violate his rights as a sitting senator,” the report added.

In the one-page order, Thomas wrote: “IT IS ORDERED that the August 15, 2022 order of the United States

District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, case No. 1:22-CV-03027, as modified by the district court’s September 1, 2022 order, is hereby stayed pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court.”

Last month, a federal judge ruled that Graham must appear before a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, investigating allegations of efforts to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

District Judge Leigh Martin May, an Obama appointee, ruled Graham must appear before the grand jury but also limited the scope of the testimony by the Republican lawmaker.

“The Court quashes the subpoena only as to questions about Sen. Graham’s investigatory fact-finding on the telephone calls to Georgia election officials, including how such information related to his decision to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election,” May wrote in her ruling. “The Court finds that this area of inquiry falls under the protection of the Speech or Debate Clause, which prohibits questions on legislative activity.”

The judge added: “Graham may be questioned about any alleged efforts to encourage [Georgia] Secretary [of State Brad] Raffensperger or others to throw out ballots or otherwise alter Georgia’s election practices and procedures.”

Prior to that, a federal appeals court ruled that Graham didn’t have to comply, for now, with a subpoena to testify to an Atlanta grand jury, Politico reported.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the subpoena at Graham’s request after a federal district court judge in Atlanta turned down the South Carolina Republican’s bid to avoid testifying on the grounds that the local grand jury is intruding on legal protections he enjoys as a federal lawmaker.

The appeals court said in a two-page order that Graham’s attorneys and prosecutors for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis needed to flesh out arguments about whether Graham is entitled to have the federal courts place legal guardrails on the questioning Graham could face. The 11th Circuit panel’s order said that those arguments should be presented first to U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May, who issued a ruling last week rejecting the arguments Graham’s team raised under the Constitution’s speech or debate clause — which immunizes lawmakers from most legal consequences for actions relating to their lawmaking responsibilities.

Investigators have said they want to query Graham about two phone calls he had with Georgia election officials in late 2020, at the same time Trump was attempting to subvert his defeat. Graham has acknowledged discussing with the officials the state’s process for counting absentee ballots.

The senator’s attorneys said that his calls were within his fact-finding duties as a senator.

“Senator Graham did not inject himself into Georgia’s electoral process, and never tried to alter the outcome of any election. The conversation was about absentee ballots and Georgia’s procedures,” his attorneys said in a court filing.

Judge May ruled that Graham would have to testify.

The senator’s attorneys argued in court that his calls were legislative and therefore protected.

Reporting from The Conservative Brief.