Judge denies Graham’s push to delay Fulton’s testimony

“As a result, delaying the senator’s testimony would not only postpone his appearance,” wrote DA Fani Willis, “it would also delay the disclosure of an entire category of relevant testimony or information, each of which would require additional time and resources to make sure.” on behalf of the “grand jury”.

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Graham’s lawyers on Wednesday asked May, an appointee of President Barack Obama, to block the senator’s testimony until his appeal is considered by the 11th Circuit.

“Senator Graham will suffer irreparable harm if he is forced to appear before his appeal is concluded,” his team’s motion said.

On Monday, May rejected Graham’s attempt to quash his subpoena, ruling that prosecutors had “demonstrated extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on matters related to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the legal administration of the 2022 elections in Georgia”.

Graham’s lawyers had argued that the senator, a close confidant of former President Donald Trump, was protected from testifying because of various federal doctrines, including the Constitution’s “Speech or Debate” clause and sovereign immunity.

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Prosecutors are interested in questioning Graham about two phone calls he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his office in late 2020, in which the two sides discussed mail-in ballots and alleged voter fraud . They also want to see how closely the Republican’s efforts might have been coordinated with the Trump campaign.

Graham’s lawyers told May that the calls were shielded from judicial branch scrutiny because they constituted a legitimate legislative inquiry. They expressed concern that inquiries about other matters could serve as a back door to question the senator about his official work in the Senate, which is protected by legislative immunity.

May’s ruling earlier this week stated that there were several policy issues on which Graham could be questioned. They include any potential coordination with the Trump campaign, attempts to “hook” or “exhort” Georgia election officials to take certain actions, and public statements Graham made to the press or outside Congress about the 2020 election.

The judge ruled Friday that further delaying Graham’s testimony — his subpoena was made public on July 5 — would harm the public interest.

“The public interest is well served when a legal investigation aimed at uncovering the facts and circumstances of the alleged attempts to disrupt or influence the Georgia election is allowed to proceed without unnecessary tapes,” May wrote. “Indeed, it is important that citizens keep faith that there are mechanisms in place to investigate any attempt to disrupt elections and, if necessary, to prosecute these crimes which, by their very nature, strike at the heart of a democratic system “.

Graham voted along with 98 of his Senate colleagues to confirm May to the federal bench in 2014.

The senator’s filing with the 11th Circuit noted that the prosecutor’s office had initially agreed to postpone Graham’s grand jury testimony until his appeal was resolved, but that prosecutors said they had changed their minds. after 4 a.m. on Friday.

Meanwhile, Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney announced Thursday that he will hear a challenge to Gov. Brian Kemp’s subpoena on Aug. 25.

The Republican governor filed a motion to quash his subpoena earlier this week, detailing a breakdown in communications between his aides and the Fulton DA’s office. Kemp cited sovereign immunity, attorney-client and executive privilege and the upcoming November election as reasons why his testimony should be blocked, or at least delayed until the end of the year.

Writer Bill Rankin contributed to this article.

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