Federal Judge Rejects Sen. Graham’s Effort to Quash Subpoena

Matt Gluck
Thursday, September 1, 2022, 4:06 PM

A federal judge refused to fully quash a subpoena issued to Sen. Lindsey Graham seeking information about efforts to disrupt Georgia’s 2020 elections, but slightly narrowed the scope of the subpoena.

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A federal judge on Sep. 1 denied Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) attempt to fully quash a grand jury subpoena issued as part of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s probe into efforts to interfere with Georgia’s 2020 elections. However, U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May accepted Graham’s claim that he is immune from questioning related to aspects of his conversations with election officials about legislative activities. 

Graham argued in his motion that Willis’s expected questioning about two of his phone calls with Georgia election officials following the November election primarily concerned legislative conduct. Therefore, Graham asserted, the speech or debate clause in Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution precludes Willis from questioning Graham about these conversations. May reasoned that although the speech and debate clause prohibits questions concerning legislative work, Graham could be questioned about any alleged activity on the calls related to “whether he in fact implied, suggested, or otherwise indicated that Secretary Raffensperger (or other Georgia election officials) throw out ballots or otherwise alter their election procedures (including in ways that would alter election results).” 

May also rejected Graham’s arguments that he should be immune from questioning regarding his public statements concerning the 2020 election, his attempts to influence Georgia election officials to alter their election-related conduct, and his communications with the Trump campaign concerning its post-election activities in Georgia.

This latest ruling comes after May on Aug. 15 rejected Graham’s Expedited Motion to Quash the subpoena and, later, refused to grant his request for a stay of that order. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals then stayed the court’s order rejecting Graham’s initial expedited request and remanded the case to the district court to consider a partial quashal of the subpoena, or changes to it, in light of the speech and debate clause. May’s ruling returns the matter to the Eleventh Circuit for reconsideration of the legality of the subpoena. 

You can read the ruling here or below. 

Matt Gluck is a research fellow at Lawfare. He holds a BA in government from Dartmouth College.

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