Election officials in the Peach State are caught up in an investigation regarding the aftermath of the 2020 election, attempting to garner more information about Donald Trump and his allies’ conversations with Georgia authorities.
While Trump’s own phone call to the electoral authorities in Atlanta has been documented to death, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham also found himself communicating with officials in Georgia, which has now manifested a subpoena for Graham.
The longtime Trump ally is now using a rather bold argument against having to testify.
At issue are phone calls Graham is alleged to have placed in November 2020 to [GA Secretary of State Brad] Raffensperger, a fellow Republican whom Trump would later pressure to “find” him the votes necessary to claim victory in the state.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal at the time, Raffensperger said that Graham had called him and suggested he throw out all mail-in ballots from counties with high rates of mismatched signatures. He refused. “We have laws in place,” Raffensperger recounted saying.
Graham has disputed that characterization of the phone call, insisting he only wished to know more about the state’s election processes.
Here’s where the Constitution comes in:
In a filing on Wednesday with a US district court, attorneys for the senator maintained that the conversations cannot be subject to legal scrutiny and the subpoena — upheld by a Georgia state judge on Monday — should be discarded.
They insist he is protected by the Constitution’s speech and debate clause, which states that federal lawmakers “shall not be questioned in any other place” for their remarks during legislative sessions. Graham’s phone calls, because they could potentially be used to craft new laws, fall under this “legislative sphere,” the lawyers argue.
Time will only tell if this strategy holds any legal water.