(CNN) — The special grand jury in Fulton County investigating the 2020 presidential election in Georgia recommended charges against Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, according to the special counsel grand jury report released Friday.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis did not charge the lawmakers when she returned an indictment last month against former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants in the sprawling racketeering case. It was up to the district attorney to decide how closely to stick to the special grand jury’s recommendations.
The senators have denied any wrongdoing related to the election.
Graham, who appeared before the special grand jury last year after a court battle over his testimony, spoke with Georgia election officials after the 2020 election. His phone calls with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff related to the possibility of finding enough fraud in the state that it could’ve tipped the election to Trump.
Raffensperger testified to the House January 6 committee that his phone call with Graham made him “uncomfortable” because some of Graham’s suggestions could have led to “disenfranchising voters.”
Graham repeatedly prodded Raffensperger and his colleagues on the phone about the signature-matching of ballots in the Atlanta area. Raffensperger told CNN in November 2020 that he believed Graham “implied” that he should try to “throw out” some ballots in the heavily Democratic county.
Graham denies wrongdoing and disputed this characterization of the call. Graham argued in his fight against the Fulton County subpoena that his calls to Georgia officials were legislative activity directly related to his responsibilities as then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also argued that his actions should be protected by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause.
Perdue, who lost his Senate run-off election in January 2021 while Trump was pushing his false claims of fraud, personally urged Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to convene a special session of the legislature to help Trump’s quest to overturn the election. Loeffler, who also lost her runoff election in January 2021, was also at the meeting.
Last year, Perdue launched an unsuccessful Trump-backed primary challenge to unseat Kemp, which relied heavily on false claims of election fraud made during the 2020 election.
Special grand juries in Georgia cannot issue indictments and instead serve as an investigative tool. This special grand jury began hearing evidence in June 2022, and Willis used it to investigate efforts to overturn the 2020 election, an investigation sparked by Trump’s January 2021 phone call with Raffensperger where Trump asked him to “find” the votes he needed to win the state. The panel ultimately heard from 75 witnesses.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney previously released very limited portions of the special grand jury’s final report, holding back the full release until after Willis announced indictments.
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