Lindsey Graham asks Supreme Court to block his testimony over Trump efforts to overturn 2020 election

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Lindsey Graham has filed an emergency request asking the US Supreme Court to block a grand jury subpoena for his testimony in a Georgia probe of Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in that state.

A federal appeals court stood with a lower-court decision on 20 October and ruled that the Republican senator “failed to demonstrate that he is likely to succeed” in his attempts to prevent his appearance before a Fulton County special grand jury.

The South Carolina senator then appealed to the nation’s high court on 21 October.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is leading an investigation into the former president’s attempts to reject the outcome of 2020 results, including an hour-long phone call in January 2021 between Mr Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to “find” the specific number of votes to win the state.

Mr Graham is wanted for questioning about his own calls with Georgia election officials in the wake of the 2020 election. Prosecutors claim the senator has “unique knowledge” about the Trump campaign and the “multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results” of the 2020 election in Georgia.

The criminal investigation also is expected to span unfounded claims of election fraud presented to state lawmakers, unauthorised access of voting machines, threats made to election workers, and a “fake elector” scheme in which GOP-supported slates of electors would cast their votes for Mr Trump.

Ms Willis’s office has notified 16 people who identified themselves as as so-called alternate electors supporting Mr Trump.

Lawyers for Mr Graham argued that a subpoena to get his testimony violates the speech and debate clause of the US Constitution, which protects members of Congress from legal exposure over their comments on legislative business.

There has been no evidence of widespread ballot fraud despite baseless conspiracy theories and spurious legal challenges launched by the former president and his allies. Statewide recounts of 2020 ballots affirmed President Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

The senator’s legal team, led by former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn, argues that the Supreme Court’s emergency intervention is “necessary” for his appeal to be heard “before it becomes moot – before, that is, Senator Graham suffers the constitutional injury this appeal is meant to avoid.”

Mr Graham argued that he sought information from Georgia officials as part of his legislative duties protected by speech and debate clause, stressing that the information he sought was necessary for an “impending vote on certifying the election” and because, as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he is responsible for “reviewing election-related issues.”

“After the phone calls, Senator Graham relied on the information gained from the calls both to vote Joe Biden the ‘legitimate President of the United States’ and to co-sponsor legislation to amend the Electoral Count Act,” according to his filing.

Mr Graham’s filing marks the second major “shadow docket” appeal at the Supreme Court involving the former president within recent weeks. His legal team sought an appeal involving federal law enforcement’s review of classified White House documents at his Mar-a-Lago. The court rejected it.