Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he was “totally surprised” by the revelation that a Georgia grand jury recommended that he be criminally charged over efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“What I did was consistent with my job as being a U.S. senator, chair of the Judiciary Committee,” Graham told reporters in South Carolina on Friday. “I think the system in this country is getting off the rails and we have to be careful not to use the legal system as a political tool.”
The special grand jury voted 13-7 earlier this year to recommend charges against Graham, now the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The senator was not ultimately indicted by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis when she brought charges against former President Donald Trump and other allies last month.
According to a special grand jury report made public Friday, the panel also believed multiple others should be criminally charged for plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and former U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Republicans from Georgia. The grand jury also recommended charging Perdue for making false statements about the election.
Prosecutors in the case probed a highly unusual phone call Graham placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger 10 days after the 2020 election. Graham asked Raffensperger on the call whether he had the power to toss out all mail ballots in certain counties. Raffensber said it sounded like Graham was suggesting he find a way to set aside legally cast ballots.
But Graham denied that implication, reiterating on Friday he was merely inquiring about the way the presidential election had been conducted as well as about runoff Senate elections involving Perdue and Loeffler, which had yet to take place.
“If it ever becomes impossible or politically dangerous or legally dangerous for a United States senator to call up people to find out how the election was wrong, God help us all. The next election, if I have questions, I’ll do the same thing,” Graham said.
“I did my job. I wouldn’t change anything I did,” he added.
Prosecutors are afforded wide discretion in deciding how to charge someone, and it’s not clear why Willis sought some indictments but not others. Asha Rangappa, a lawyer and legal commentator for MSNBC, suggested on Friday that bringing charges against members of Congress could prove difficult and harmful to the broader case.
Seeing lots of news reports highlighting that D.A. Fani Willis did not indict U.S. senators despite special grand jury recommendations. Doing so would have 1) potential constitutional hurdles and 2) would give folks like Jim Jordan a clear "hook" to do what he's doing now— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) September 8, 2023
Also -- sitting U.S. senators would have a pretty solid basis to request removal to federal court, potentially taking many or all of the other Ds with them. (Meadows trying that now, but he has a much looser claim than a senator, IMO). Fani made the right call on them https://t.co/SumbE0pRL5— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) September 8, 2023