Judge rules US senator Graham must testify in Trump 2020 election probe

US Senator Lindsey Graham must testify before a grand jury in Georgia state, which is investigating possible 2020 election interference by former President Donald Trump, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

"The Court finds that there are considerable areas of potential grand jury inquiry falling outside the Speech or Debate Clause’s protections," Judge Leigh Martin May said in the 22-page ruling.

Graham's attorneys argued that a post-election telephone call Graham made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in November 2020 had a legislative purpose and therefore was covered by the Speech and Debate clause.

But, May countered that the grand jury has been impaneled to “investigat[e] the facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to possible attempts to disrupt the lawful administration of the 2020 elections in the State of Georgia.”

The judge also rejected the notion that sovereign immunity protected Graham from having to testify because he is a sitting US senator.

"Sovereign immunity fails to shield Senator Graham from testifying before the Special Purpose Grand Jury," May's ruling continued.

"If the Court were to accept Senator Graham’s sovereign immunity argument, it would mean that U.S. Senators would not be required to testify before state grand juries no matter the circumstances. The law would give them complete immunity based solely on their status as federal officials."

The judge said Graham's reasoning for being exempt from testifying because he is a high-ranking government official also does not apply to this case.

"The Court finds that the District Attorney has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2022 elections," said May.

"Senator Graham has unique personal knowledge about the substance and circumstances of the phone calls with Georgia election officials... Senator Graham’s potential testimony on these issues—in addition to his knowledge about topics outside of the calls such as his alleged coordination with the Trump Campaign before and after the calls are unique to Senator Graham," she added.

A spokesman for Graham said he will appeal the judge's ruling.

Source: Anadolu Agency