July 27, 2022
U.S. Representative Jody Hice (R-Georgia) must testify to an Atlanta-area grand jury investigating efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election, a federal court ruled on Monday, July 25, reports Politico.
However, it left open the possibility that the Georgia Republican may be able to avoid certain questions due to constitutional immunities.
U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May upheld the Fulton County grand jury’s decision to subpoena Hice as part of District Attorney Fani Willis’ wide-ranging probe. But both Hice’s attorneys and the county’s agreed that the courts need more information about what questions investigators will ask Hice before deciding whether he can cite any immunities from testifying.
That’s the thrust of the judge’s order. Rather than throw out the subpoena altogether, she has urged that “the record should be more fully developed” before deciding whether any immunities apply to Hice’s potential testimony.
The speech or debate clause—which prohibits other branches of government from questioning members of Congress over matters connected to their official duties —and the high-ranking official doctrine, which requires that investigators pursue other available means to obtain information before deposing the head or leadership of an organization. Willis’ office has argued that neither apply in this context.
The ruling could have ramifications for Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who also is preparing to fight a subpoena from the Fulton County grand jury.
Research contact: @politico