The Supreme Court has stayed an order requiring Graham to testify before a grand jury

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Before a Georgia grand jury investigating possible efforts by President Donald Trump and his allies to disrupt the 2020 presidential election, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) was ordered to appear by Judge Clarence Thomas on Monday. Election.

of Thomas Summary Order It appears to be an attempt to maintain the status quo Graham’s petition to the Supreme Court Advances. Attorneys face a Thursday deadline to respond to Graham’s request, meaning the full court will consider the issue.

Last week, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Rejected Graham’s attempt The lawmaker sought to block a subpoena from Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis (D). A sitting senator is protected from testifying at such hearings.

A district court judge had ordered Graham to appear, but narrowed the range of questions prosecutors could ask.

Undeterred by lower court rulings, Graham’s attorney, Donald F. McCann, told the Supreme Court In the petition filed Friday afternoon, “Sen. Graham would suffer the precise injury he sought to prevent: being tried in state court for his legislative activity and official actions.

Graham’s petition went to Thomas because he is the judge assigned to hear emergency claims from the 11th Circuit. Democrats have called for Thomas to recuse himself from any lawsuits related to the 2020 election because of the activities of his wife, Virginia “Ginny” Thomas, who actively opposed the outcome. But judges make their own denial decisions.

Virginia Thomas urged Mark Meadows to continue efforts to challenge the election results

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Thomas’ one-sentence order said the lower court’s ruling in the Graham case “pending the undersigned or further order of the court.” Such language generally indicates that the court does not want the action to be challenged before the judges act.

Willis told The Washington Post in an earlier interview that the grand jury would not function after that Middle Ages Election on November 8. A subpoena for Graham’s testimony ordered him to appear on November 17.

Jeff DeSantis, a spokesman for Willis, said “we will decline to comment” on the Thomas order, pending the filing of prosecutors’ response to the Supreme Court.

An Atlanta grand jury investigating 2020 presidential election interference heard testimony from several Trump lawyers. Rudy GiulianiJohn Eastman and Boris Epstein. Willis also wants to investigate former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Graham will be asked to testify He called Georgia election officials Right after Trump lost the election to Joe Biden. Prosecutors say Graham has “unique knowledge” of the Trump campaign and “multi-state, coordinated efforts” to influence election results in Georgia and elsewhere.

But Graham said his actions were legitimate legislative action protected by the Constitution’s “speech or debate clause.” The senator’s attorneys have said they have been informed that Graham is a witness — and not a target — in the investigation.

Last month, a district court judge said prosecutors could not question Graham Parts of calls They are legislative fact-finding. But the judge said Willis’ team could explore coordination with the Trump campaign in post-election efforts in Georgia, public statements related to the 2020 election and efforts to “cajole” or “stimulate” Georgia election officials.

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The status of major investigations involving Donald Trump

In its order Thursday, the 11th Circuit panel agreed with the lower court judge that “those actions cannot qualify as legislative actions under any understanding of Supreme Court precedent.” Trump nominated two of the three judges on the panel.

Graham could still assert his rights if there was a dispute about certain questions, the court noted.

Ginny Thomas’ actions have led some to question whether Thomas should recuse herself from the 2020 election cases so she doesn’t appear impartial.

Ginny texted back and forth with Thomas Meadows at a time when Trump’s allies vowed to take their efforts to the Supreme Court. In one message, he asked Meadows to “help this great president stand firm” and “listen to Rush.” Mark Stein, Bongino, Cleta,” referring to conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh, Mark Stein and Dan Bongino, and attorney Cleta Mitchell.

Mitchell was on the phone with Trump on Jan. 2 when he called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger and urged him to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the key state.

Ginny Thomas told the inquiry January 6 The US capital was attacked last month after she said she did not discuss her post-election activities with her husband and the judge did not discuss her work in court with him. “Anyone who thinks I can influence my husband’s judiciary is laughable — the man is independent and stubborn, with strong qualities of independence and integrity,” she said in her opening statement to the committee.

Thomas declined to answer rebuttal questions put to a court spokeswoman.

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Tom Hamburger contributed to this report.

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