The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Sunday temporarily suspended his appearance, asking a lower court to consider whether Graham should be protected from answering certain questions about his official duties as a U.S. senator.
Legal maneuvering is It’s the latest sign of tension between prosecutors and high-profile witnesses in the Fulton County district attorney’s sprawling criminal investigation into alleged election interference by former President Donald Trump and his allies. After seeking repeated delays, Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani testified for six hours last week.
The panel includes Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger (R) and his staff, Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr (R), has heard testimony from state lawmakers and local election workers. Brian Kemp, the state’s Republican governor, filed the 121-page proposal last week.
Graham called the Georgia hearing “a fishing trip” and argued that the Constitution’s “speech or debate clause” protects lawmakers from answering questions about their official legislative duties. Graham’s attorneys say they were told he did nothing wrong and that Graham was a witness for the prosecution, not a target of the investigation.
Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis (D) He has expressed his desire to interrogate Graham on his conversations with Raffensberger in the wake of the 2020 election and other matters. In court documents, Willis said his investigation will examine “multi-state, coordinated efforts to influence the November 2020 election results in Georgia and elsewhere.” A motion filed Friday by his office argued that delaying Graham’s appearance would “delay the disclosure of the entire array of relevant witnesses,” which would push back the trial’s timeline.
U.S. District Judge Lee Martin May on Friday denied Graham’s request to postpone his testimony and request for an emergency hearing.
“Senator Graham’s arguments are wholly unpersuasive and do not establish a ‘substantial case,'” the judge wrote at the time, leading Graham’s lawyers to file an urgent appeal.
On Sunday, the appeals court ordered the lower court to review arguments about whether Graham was entitled to “modify a partial quashing or subpoena” seeking his testimony. The appeals court said it would consider the case after that lower court review.
As Graham continued his efforts to kill the subpoena, a congressman who once raised similar objections, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), testified before a special grand jury for more than two hours last week, his attorney said.
Like Graham, Hiss sought to kill a subpoena, citing constitutional protections of the speech or debate clause. Judge May Hice’s motion was denied. Hice is a Trump ally who echoed false claims of widespread election fraud after the 2020 election and his failed bid for Georgia secretary of state.
John Wagner and Matthew Brown contributed to this report.