Posts tagged with "Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)"

Judge rules Graham must comply with Georgia grand jury subpoena

August 16, 2022

A federal judge ruled on Monday, August 15, that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) must comply with a special grand jury subpoena from the Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney, who is investigating former President Trump’s efforts to pressure Georgia officials into overturning the state’s 2020 election results, reports The Hill.

 U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May denied Graham’s motion not to comply with the subpoena—rejecting his arguments that he has testimonial immunity from state judicial proceedings as a federal legislator.

 In a 22-page decision, May said the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, which shields members of Congress from being compelled to testify in court about their legislative work, does not warrant quashing the subpoena as Graham had requested. 

 “In sum, the Court finds that there are considerable areas of potential grand jury inquiry falling outside the Speech or Debate Clause’s protections,” May, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, wrote.

 “Additionally, sovereign immunity fails to shield Senator Graham from testifying before the Special Purpose Grand Jury. Finally, though Senator Graham argues that he is exempt from testifying as a high-ranking government official, the Court finds that the District Attorney has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2022 elections.”

 A spokesperson for Graham said the senator would appeal, which he had vowed to do before Monday’s decision during a press conference last week.

 “This is ridiculous,” Graham said. “This weaponization of the law needs to stop. So I will use the courts. We will go as far as we need to go and do whatever needs to be done to make sure that people like me can do their jobs without fear of some county prosecutor coming after you.”

 Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) subpoenaed Graham in July, seeking his testimony in the investigation into a scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Willis’s office cited phone conversations that the South Carolina senator had with a pair of Georgia officials in the weeks after Election Day.

 Research contact: @thehill

A Georgia judge says Jody Hice must testify about efforts to overturn the 2020 election

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

Biden to nominate Ketanji Brown Jackson to be first Black woman to sit on Supreme Court

February 28, 2022

President Joe Biden has selected Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court, according to a source who has been notified about the decision—setting in motion an historic confirmation process for the first Black woman to sit on the highest court in the nation, CNN was first to report on Friday, February 25.

Jackson, 51, currently sits on DC’s federal appellate court and had been considered the front-runner for the vacancy since Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement.

She received and accepted Biden’s offer in a call on Thursday night, a source familiar with the decision told CNN.

Jackson clerked for Breyer and served as a federal public defender in Washington, D.C.—an experience that her backers say is fitting, given Biden’s commitment to putting more public defenders on the federal bench. She was also a commissioner on the US Sentencing Commission and served on the federal district court in D.C., as an appointee of President Barack Obama, before Biden elevated her to the D.C. Circuit last year.

Biden’s pick is a chance for him to fire up a Democratic base that is less excited to vote in this year’s midterm elections than it has been over the past several election cycles. It’s also a welcome change of topic for the president, whose approval ratings have been sagging in recent months as the COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on and inflation has affected consumers across the nation. The selection gives Biden a chance to deliver on one of his top campaign promises, and he’ll hope that the Black voters who were crucial to his election win will see this as a return on their investment.

Although it is historic, the choice of Jackson will not change the ideological makeup of the court. The court currently has six conservative justices and three liberal justices—and the retiring Breyer comes from the liberal camp. The court is already poised to continue its turn toward the right with high-profile cases and rulings expected from the court in the coming months on abortion, gun control and religious liberty issues.

Eyes will now turn to the Senate, where Biden’s Democratic Party holds the thinnest possible majority. The president will hope that Jackson can garner bipartisan support, but Democrats will need all their members in Washington to ensure her confirmation. Unlike for most major pieces of legislation, Democrats do not need Republican help to confirm a Supreme Court justice and can do it with their 50 votes and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a deadlock. When Jackson was confirmed to the appellate bench, she had the support of three Republican senators.

However, President Biden’s choice already is facing Republican opposition. Several Senate Republicans have told CNN that they disagree with the president’s decision to name a Black woman to the court rather than judging a nominee squarely on his or her credentials, even though Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump both said they’d name a female justice to the Supreme Court when they were on the campaign trail.

Before Biden even picked a nominee, GOP senators and Senate candidates were already concluding that she’d be far left, throwing cold water on the names floated as being on Biden’s potential short list and calling for a slow confirmation process. Still, Republicans are limited in their ability to block a Supreme Court nominee, and Jackson may win the support of some GOP senators.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine all voted for Jackson last summer when she was confirmed as a circuit court judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the second most important court in the country.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated that he wants to push a nominee through the process quickly, using Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate proceedings as a model for Jackson’s confirmation timeline.

Research contact: @CNN

Clyburn pushes his pick for Supreme Court, testing his sway with Biden

Febraury 7, 2022

The highest-ranking Black member of Congress is credited with helping resurrect the president’s 2020 campaign at a critical point. Now he is calling in a favor, reports The New York Times.

Democratic Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina already was picturing Judge J. Michelle Childs sitting on the Supreme Court bench in early 2020 when he suggested Joseph R. Biden Jr. could revive his faltering presidential campaign by pledging to nominate the first Black woman to serve there.

Biden did so—paving the way for an endorsement from Clyburn ahead of the South Carolina primary, which was a critical turning point in the race. In the months since the election, Clyburn, the number-three House Democrat, has not been shy about taking his share of credit for Biden’s victory and trying to exert influence on the president’s policy and personnel choices.

Now, Clyburn is mounting an aggressive campaign to persuade the president to nominate Judge Childs, a district court judge in his home state of South Carolina, to succeed Justice Stephen Breyer, who is retiring.

According to the Times, Clyburn is mounting a blatant effort to call in a political favor in the form of a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court and, perhaps, the most consequential test yet of the Biden-Clyburn relationship.

“I make my case, I share my views, sometimes my feelings, and then I go on,”. Clyburn, 81, said in a recent interview, describing how he uses his sway with Mr. Biden. This time, he is going all out, and irking some of the president’s allies in the process.

Within hours of Breyer’s retirement announcement, Clyburn held a conference call with South Carolina reporters, stating that Judge Childs’s humble backgroun —she attended large public universities on scholarships, earning her undergraduate degree at the University of South Florida, and law and business degrees at the University of South Carolina—would better represent the country than another justice with an Ivy League pedigree. (Ketanji Brown Jackson, another top contender, has two degrees from Harvard, while a third, Leondra R. Kruger, has one from Harvard and one from Yale.)

Allies in South Carolina immediately began emailing talking points to potentially helpful surrogates, noting that Judge Childs was “rooted in the African American community,” a member of Delta Sigma Theta, the prestigious Black sorority, and a member of the oldest Black Catholic church in Columbia.

Over the past week, Clyburn has plugged Childs’s case on television and noted that she has the backing of Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. On Wednesday, February 2, he and Graham had breakfast in the Senate dining room with Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, to discuss, among other issues, Judge Childs and how to make a bipartisan case for her nomination. Graham posted a picture on Twitter of the three men smiling.

“It’s good for the country to have the court look more like America,” Graham said afterward. He said he had told the White House that Judge Childs, who is regarded as more moderate than other candidates whom Biden is thought to be considering, “would draw some Republican support.”

At the White House, Clyburn has been talking her up to the president since a few days after Inauguration Day, although he said he had not spoken to Biden about Judge Childs since Breyer’s retirement announcement. It was Clyburn who urged the president to nominate her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is considered a feeder to the Supreme Court. Biden announced in December that he would do so, but that appointment is now on hold.

Research contact: @nytimes

Murkowski ‘disturbed’ by McConnell’s plan for ‘total coordination’ with White House on impeachment

December 26, 2019

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is no pushover when it comes to Republican politics. This week, she went on the record saying that she does not agree with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Kentucky) stated position that he will work in “total coordination” with the White House during the looming impeachment trial.

“When I heard that I was disturbed,” Murkowski told KTUU, an NBC affiliate in her home state, in an interview that aired December 24.

McConnell already has been harshly criticized for his comments by Democrats—given that senators take an oath to be impartial jurors during the trial, The Hill reported.

“To me,” Murkowski continued, speaking of the Senate’s constitutional responsibility in the process, “it means we have to take that step back from being hand-in-glove with the defense. And so I heard what Leader McConnell had said, I happen to think that that has further confused the process.”

Murkowski, a moderate Republican, is seen as one of a few GOP senators who could break from the party on a vote to remove Trump from office; although the president is anticipated to be acquitted given the Republican control of the chamber.

Unlike some of her colleagues, such as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)—a Trump crony who repeatedly has said that he is ready to vote and doesn’t need to hear any witnesses—Murkowski said she won’t “prejudge” the situation before the process continues.

“For me to prejudge and say there’s nothing there, or on the other hand, ‘he should be impeached yesterday,’ that’s wrong. In my view, that’s wrong,” she said. 

“If it means that I am viewed as one who looks openly and critically at every issue in front of me rather than acting as a rubber stamp for my party or my president, I am totally good with that,” Murkowski added. “I am totally, totally good with that.”

McConnell signaled on Monday the talks about a trial are in limbo until senators return to Washington in a couple of weeks,, The Hill reported.

Research contact: @thehill

Graham will ask Australia, Italy, and UK to aid and abet AG Barr’s probe into Russia investigation

October 2, 2019

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) obviously is “drinking the Kool-Aid,” along with the president, the attorney general, and the secretary of state.

On October 1, The Hill reports, Graham laid out plans to send a letter asking other nations to cooperate with the Justice Department’s probe into the origins of the Mueller investigation.

Graham, during an on-air interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Monday, knocked a report by The New York Times that alleged that President Donald Trump had asked the Australian government to assist Attorney General William Barr as part of the DOJ investigation.

“Barr should be talking to Australia. He should be talking to Italy. He should be talking to the U.K. to find out if their intelligence services worked with our intelligence services improperly to open up a counterintelligence investigation of Trump’s campaign. If he’s not doing that he’s not doing his job,” Graham said according to The Hill. 

“So I’m going to write a letter to all three countries … asking them to cooperate with Barr,” he added. 

Graham’s Fox News interview comes after The New York Times reported that Trump urged Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help Barr, according to two officials with knowledge of the call. The Justice Department subsequently confirmed that Trump had contacted foreign governments at Barr’s request.

Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and has emerged as a Trump crony, blasted the Times piece, The Hill said—characterizing it as “the beginning of an effort to shut down Barr’s investigation.”

“This New York Times article is an effort to stop Barr. … What are they afraid of? This really bothers me a lot that the left is going to try to say there’s something wrong with Barr talking to Australia, Italy and the United Kingdom,” he added.

In addition to the Times story, The Washington Post reported on Monday that Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham of the District of Connecticut, who is leading the DOJ’s inquiry, met with senior Italian officials.

Barr also has reportedly requested assistance from British intelligence officials in connection with the inquiry.

Research contact: @thehill

Landmark criminal justice legislation clears Senate, 82-12

December 20, 2018

In one of the 115th U.S. Congress’s final acts—and surely one of its few bipartisan agreements—on December 17, the Senate overwhelmingly approved, by a vote of 82-12, the most significant and sweeping reform to prison sentencing laws in a generation, according to a report by ABCNews.Go.

U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee—who introduced the First Step Act along with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island)—commented, “This bill in its entirety has been endorsed by the political spectrum of America. I can’t remember any bill that has this kind of support, left and right, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican.”

The legislation combines prison reform proposals that overwhelmingly passed in the House of Representatives earlier this year with sentencing reform provisions from the broadly bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which was authored by Durbin and Grassley and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in February by a vote of 16-5.

Broadly, the bill allows judges more discretion in sentences offenders for nonviolent crimes (particularly, for drug-related crimes); allows more home confinement of lower-level offenders; expands prison employment programs so that inmates can earn wages; sets up a risk assessment system to determine whether a prisoner is likely to re-offend, if released; and addresses sentencing disparities (particularly, against those of color).

The bill’s approval represents a win for President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been a leading advocate for criminal justice reform within the administration, following his own father’s experience behind bars.

And according to ABCNews.Go, Trump’s embrace of the legislation is a departure from his tough-on-crime rhetoric. While the president in the past has gone so far as to call for the death penalty for drug dealers, according to the network news outlet, the president “has gotten on board with a bill that aims to loosen sentencing guidelines for some nonviolent drug offenses.”

Despite receiving bipartisan support, there were some skeptics., the news outlet said. Two Republicans, Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and John Kennedy of Louisiana, unsuccessfully introduced amendments to limit which types of offenders would be eligible for early-release programs and were fiercely opposed to the legislation.

This is only the beginning, according to everyone involved. Ergo, the name, First Step Act. ““When it comes to reversing the harms done by mass incarceration, the real work is going to lie with the states and with local jurisdictions,” said Wanda Bertram, a spokeswoman for the Prison Policy Initiative, a Massachusetts-based think tank focused on criminal-justice reform, told MarketWatch.

“What we’re hoping is that states look to this bill as a model for state-based reform, but they also go much further, because this is a first step, but much more is needed,” she said.

Research contact: @MKhan47