Lindsey Graham testifying before the Georgia grand jury in an election investigation

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ATLANTA — After months of failed legal challenges, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) appeared Tuesday before a special grand jury examining former President Donald Trump and his allies’ efforts to determine Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia, the most recent high, quashed – profile witness in an investigation believed to be nearing completion.

A sheriff said Graham entered the courthouse around 8 a.m

A spokesman for Graham did not respond to a request for comment on the grand jury proceedings, which are legally classified. A spokesman for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Graham’s testimony follows an expanded legal challenge to block his appearance, which went as far as the US Supreme Court, which this month refused to overturn lower court decisions ordering him to appear.

The Republican and Trump confidant from South Carolina was first subpoenaed in July by the Fulton County District Attorney’s office, who wanted to question Graham about phone calls he made with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and others in the weeks following the 2020 election issues related to the election.

Trump personally urged Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to reverse his defeat in the state where Biden won by fewer than 12,000 votes. Trump has insisted the election there was marred by fraud, although multiple legal investigations have found no evidence to support it.

Raffensperger later told The Washington Post he felt pressured by fellow Republicans, including Graham, who repeated Trump’s claims of voting irregularities in the state. He claimed that when Graham called, it appeared he asked him to find a way to keep legally cast ballots.

Graham and his attorneys have firmly denied that characterization, calling the senator’s interactions with Raffensperger “investigative calls” designed to inform his decision-making about whether to vote for Biden for confirmation of the election and inform other Senate work.

In court filings, Graham has maintained that his actions were legitimate legislative activity protected by the constitution’s “speech or debate clause” and that he should not be required to answer questions from a grand jury.

In September, US District Judge Leigh Martin May ruled that Fulton County prosecutors could not question Graham on portions of his calls to determine legislative facts.

But May cleared the way for prosecutors to question Graham about his coordination with the Trump campaign on Georgia’s post-election efforts. The judge also said Graham could also be asked about his public statements about the 2020 election and “alleged efforts to ‘flatter’ or encourage Georgian election officials to “throw out ballots or otherwise alter Georgia’s electoral practices and procedures.” “.

A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit later upheld the lower court’s decision. The Supreme Court this month dismissed a final appeal from Graham, paving the way for his appearance this week. Graham’s attorneys said he was told he was a witness and not a target in the Fulton County investigation.

Graham’s testimony came as the grand jury appears to be nearing completion of its work. The jury heard testimony from several Trump attorneys, including Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and Boris Epshteyn. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who also tried unsuccessfully to vacate a subpoena in the case, appeared before the panel last week.

District Attorney Fani T. Willis has also sought testimony from other top Trump advisers, including Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows; former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. All three are continuing legal efforts to vacate their subpoenas – pending appeals that could delay proceedings.

The 23-member grand jury is authorized to meet until May 2023. But Willis said earlier this year that she hopes the panel will complete its work by the end of this year. The panel does not have the power to bring charges, but would make its recommendations in a report to Willis, who would then consider possible charges.

During a court hearing in Florida last week where Flynn challenged his subpoena, Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Will Wooten told a judge there were “very few” witnesses left.

“It’s likely that this grand jury won’t be hearing much more testimony,” Wooten said, according to CNN.

Bailey reported from New Orleans and Brown from Atlanta. Ann E. Marimov and Tom Hamburger contributed to this report.

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