“Senator Graham has unique personal knowledge of the substance and circumstances of the phone calls with Georgia election officials, as well as the logistics of their establishment and his subsequent actions,” May wrote. “And although other Georgia election officials were allegedly present during these calls and made public statements about the substance of these conversations, Senator Graham has widely (and even publicly) challenged their characterizations of the nature of the calls. and what was said and implied. Therefore, Senator Graham’s potential testimony on these matters…is unique to Senator Graham.
Graham had argued that the subpoena should be dropped altogether because it violated the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause, which protects federal lawmakers from questioning for matters related to their official duties. Graham argued that as a senator, his calls about the election process related to political matters that could be construed as official business.
But May, an appointee for former President Barack Obama, said Graham’s argument was unconvincing because there were many areas he could be questioned about that would fall outside his legislative responsibilities. Among them:
“(1) his potential communications and coordination with the Trump campaign and his post-election efforts in Georgia; (2) his knowledge of other groups or individuals involved in efforts to influence the results of the 2020 elections in Georgia; and (3) his public statements after the 2020 election – is of great significance to the matter currently before the Court,” May wrote.
Graham’s Senate office and attorneys representing him in the lawsuit did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Fulton County prosecutor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It is unclear whether Graham will appeal the decision.
Graham, in court filings, had argued that his appeals to Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger were more benign in nature and helped the senator decide to vote to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.
May said that even if Graham maintained that his phone calls to Raffensperger were part of his official business, that would not be enough to overturn the subpoena — because Raffensperger and his aides said otherwise.
“Senator Graham dismisses as irrelevant that interviewees publicly suggested that Senator Graham was not merely engaged in a legislative inquiry, but rather was suggesting or implying that Georgia election officials were changing their processes or potentially changing the state results,” May wrote. .
May said it would take further questioning and evidence by the grand jury to determine the nature of Graham’s phone calls before a decision is made to bar testimony about them.
“For example, asking Senator Graham if he directed the Secretary of State of Georgia to take certain actions would be permissible and would not violate the speech or debate clause,” she wrote. “That would be outside of gathering information that Senator Graham claims is legislative.”