A special grand jury in Georgia recommended criminally charging Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, according to a final report released Friday.
None of the three ended up facing criminal charges in the Georgia criminal case that accuses former President Donald Trump and 18 others of operating as a “criminal organization” as they sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in one of the nation’s top battleground states.
The special grand jury’s final report said the panel recommended that the three Republicans be indicted in relation to the “national effort to overturn the 2020 election.” Seven of the 21 jurors opposed an indictment of Graham, R-S.C., six opposed it of Loeffler, and four opposed the recommendation against Perdue. Both Loeffler and Perdue lost their Senate seats in Georgia elections in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
The panel recommended that Perdue face a separate criminal charge related to “persistent, repeated communications directed to multiple Georgia officials and employees.” Only one juror voted against that recommendation.
Others listed in the final report, like Trump and lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, were charged last month by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in a case that focuses on the former president’s efforts to overturn election results in Georgia. Those indictments center on the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, known as RICO.
Willis’ office had nothing to do with the recommendations, the report said, commenting that “any legal errors contained in this report should not be laid at their feet.”
Graham said at a news conference that he was surprised by the charging recommendations. He said he testified before the grand jury for a few hours about calls he placed as a senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to find out details of how the 2020 election in Georgia was conducted.
“We can’t criminalize senators doing their job when they have a constitutional requirement to fulfill. It would be irresponsible for me in my opinion as chairman of the committee not to try to find out what happened. It would be irresponsible for me to tell the voters of South Carolina what I did without actually trying to find out what the right answer was,” Graham told reporters. “It speaks to where we’re at.”
Graham said he would still support Trump despite the charges against the former president and that he was concerned about the “weaponization” of law enforcement against political opponents.
“We’re opening up Pandora’s box here,” Graham said.
The grand jury sought Graham’s testimony about his calls with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and staff about the 2020 election and communications about those calls. He testified before the panel last year after he unsuccessfully challenged the subpoena, taking his case to the Supreme Court. Graham said it would infringe his constitutional protections against being asked about “speech or debate” as a member of Congress.
U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May for the Northern District of Georgia did limit the subpoena to three areas: coordination with the Trump campaign, public statements Graham made about the 2020 election, and any efforts Graham took to “cajole or “exhort” Georgia officials to take specific actions.
A Senate report filed by Graham in July indicated that he has spent hundreds of thousands litigating the case. The Lindsey Graham Legal Expense Trust Fund spent $56,000 in the second quarter of the year, for a total of more than $218,000.
Most of that went to Graham’s attorneys at Jones Day, which includes former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn, according to the filing.
Loeffler issued a statement on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, disputing the premise of the investigation and accused prosecutors of “election interference.”
“I make no apologies for serving my state by giving voice to the millions of Americans who felt disenfranchised in 2020 – and I refuse to be intimidated by a two-tiered system of justice that seeks to systematically destroy conservatives across the country,” Loeffler wrote.
Representatives for Perdue couldn’t be reached for comment.
Chris Marquette contributed to this report.