Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas has temporarily halted an order compelling Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to testify before an Atlanta grand jury investigating efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election in the state of Georgia.
Graham was subpoenaed in July along with several other figures tied to the effort to former President Donald Trump, including Rudy Giuliani. Graham allegedly called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger following the 2020 election to ask if he had the power to toss out legally cast absentee votes. Trump famously asked Raffensperger to “find” the votes necessary to give him the state.
Giuliani testified in August, but Graham on Friday asked the Supreme Court to step in and help him skirt sitting under oath.
Graham has argued that his actions in the aftermath of the election are protected by the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause, a constitutional provision meant to protect legislators from civil or criminal suits related to their work in congress. In his request to the court, Graham’s Legal team argues that the phone calls made to election officials were “made in the course of his official work, in the leadup to the critical vote under the Electoral Count Act.” Graham would need to prove his actions took place in his capacity as an elected representative and not as an ally acting in the interests of former President Trump.
Thomas issued the stay because he has jurisdiction over the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Georgia court that ruled Graham must testify. It’s certainly notable that he is the one issuing the stay, though, as his wife Ginni was herself involved in the effort to overturn the election. Texts obtained by the Jan. 6 committee revealed that she was pressuring former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to work to reverse the results. She was pushing Republican lawmakers to do the same.
Thomas instructed the Fulton County grand jury to submit their response to Graham’s petition to the court by Thursday.