Sen. Lindsey Graham has been trying his best to evade a subpoena requiring him to testify before a special purpose grand jury (SPGJ) assembled in Georgia’s Fulton County to investigate GOP efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election. A federal appeals court gave him reason for brief relief on Sunday in the form of a temporary stay, according to a court order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
The court decided in the order obtained by Georgia Public Broadcasting: “This case is REMANDED to the district court for the limited purpose of allowing the district court to determine whether (Graham) is entitled to a partial quashal or modification of the subpoena to appear before the special purpose grand jury based on any protections afforded by the Speech or Debate Clause of the United States Constitution.”
Graham wrote in an appeal request that the Constitution’s “speech or debate clause” protects legislators from having to answer questions about their official duties as lawmakers.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis argued in her opposition to Graham’s emergency motion for the stay that he has not made a strong showing that his motion is likely to succeed. She also said factors including “whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay,” whether a stay will “substantially injure the other parties,” and “where the public interest lies” regard “individualized judgment in each case” and the “formula cannot be reduced to a set of rigid rules.”
“Given the possibility that Senator Graham’s testimony could reveal additional routes of inquiry, staying remand and enjoining his appearance at this stage could ultimately delay the resolution of the SPGJ’s entire investigation.”
Joyce Alene, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, highlighted just how much the stay could impact the probe in a tweet. “The 11th Circuit significantly delays Fani Willis’ ability to take Lindsey Graham’s testimony, remanding the case to the district court for it to decide if the subpoena can be quashed b/c of the speech & debate clause,” Alene said in the tweet. “This could be months, not weeks.”
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