The US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Sunday temporarily put his appearance on hold, asking a lower court to consider whether Graham should be protected from answering some questions about his official duties as a US senator.
Graham has called the Georgia inquiry “a fishing expedition” and argued that the constitution’s “speech or debate clause” protects lawmakers from answering questions about their official legislative duties.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, which is leading the probe into the actions of former president Donald Trump and his allies, argued in a federal district court filing on Friday that Graham should appear before a special grand jury this week despite his appeal to postpone offering testimony.
Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis (D) has expressed interest in questioning Graham about conversations he had in the wake of the 2020 election with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), among other matters. In court documents, Willis has said that her inquiry is examining “the multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.” The filing from her office Friday argued that delaying Graham’s appearance would “delay the revelation of an entire category of relevant witnesses,” pushing back the timeline of the investigation.
US District Judge Leigh Martin May on Friday denied Graham’s request to postpone his testimony, as well as his request for an emergency hearing.
“Senator Graham’s arguments are entirely unpersuasive, and they do not even demonstrate a ‘substantial case on the merits,'” the judge wrote then, leading Graham’s lawyers to file an emergency appeal.
On Sunday, the appellate court ordered that the lower court review arguments about whether Graham is entitled to “a partial quashal or modification of the subpoena” requesting his testimony. Once that lower court review is complete, the appellate court said it would consider the matter.
John Wagner and Matthew Brown contributed to this report.