Graham defiant after Trump grand jury report recommended charges: 'I'll do the same thing'

Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Senator David Perdue (R-GA), wave during a campaign event at the Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub, in Milton, Georgia, December 21, 2020.

Al Drago | Reuters

The full special grand jury report that led to the criminal indictment of former President Donald Trump and 18 others for trying to overturn his 2020 Georgia election loss recommended also charging two former U.S. senators from the state, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, and current U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Neither of those three current and former Republican lawmakers were indicted last month by the regular Fulton County Superior Court grand jury that charged Trump and the other defendants.

Graham scoffed at the idea that he should have been charged in the case, vowing to reporters “I’ll do the same thing” in the next election if he saw the need.

Also not charged were 18 other people whom the special grand jury had recommended for indictment, including former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn, Trump advisor and lawyer Boris Epshteyn, and campaign lawyer Cleta Mitchell, according to the report.

The full 25-page report of the special grand jury, which finished its investigative work last winter, was released Friday morning.

The special grand jury recommended that Graham, Perdue and Loeffler, along with others, should be indicted for crimes related to “the national effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, focused on efforts in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is seen during a vote in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, September 7, 2023.

Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

 Graham, talking to reporters later, said “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, a staunch Trump ally, is known to have called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger after the November 2020 election to ask about absentee ballots in that contest.

Graham told Friday, “So at the end of the day, nothing happened. What I did was consistent with my job as being United States senator, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.”

“We’re opening up Pandora’s box,” he added. “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.”

Loeffler, in her own statement on the social media site X, said, “I make no apologies for serving my state by giving voice to millions of Americans who felt disenfranchised in 2020 — and I refuse to be intimidated by a two-tiered system of justice that seems to systematically destroy conservatives across this country.”

The special grand jury had the power to subpoena evidence and testimony from witnesses but did not have the authority to issue indictments.

Both Perdue and Loeffler, who were sitting senators at the time of the 2020 election, were defeated in early 2021 runoff elections by Democrats, Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

Trump’s continued false claims of election fraud in the 2020 presidential contest were seen as factors that led to the defeat of both Perdue and Loeffler, and Democrats taking majority control of the Senate in 2021.

A footnote in the special grand jury report says that one juror voted against recommending indictments against Perdue and Loeffler on a racketeering conspiracy charge because they believed that the then-senators’ “statements following the November 2020 election, while pandering to their political base, did not give rise to their being guilty of a criminal conspiracy.”

Flynn’s lawyer Jesse Binnall in a statement said, “Today’s report reveals even more corruption by a politically-motivated prosecutor with one goal: to take down President Trump and his associates, and interfere in the 2024 election.”

“This baseless witch hunt isn’t based on the facts, or the law, or reality,” Binnall said.

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The special grand jury was used by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis over seven months since 2022 to gather evidence and take testimony in her investigation of Trump and his allies in that election reversal effort.

Trump and his co-defendants were indicted by a regular grand jury in Fulton County Superior Court last month on charges alleging a broad-ranging election conspiracy.

Previously unsealed sections of the special grand jury’s report said that members of the panel believed that some of the 75 witnesses it heard testimony from had perjured themselves.

Trump and the other defendants in the case have pleaded not guilty.

Separately, Trump is charged in federal court in Washington, D.C., with crimes related to his bid to reverse the national victory of President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Trump has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Trump is currently the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in the upcoming election, teeing up a potential rematch in 2024.

In a social media post Friday, Trump wrote: “The Georgia Grand Jury report has just been released. It has ZERO credibility and badly taints Fani Willis and this whole political Witch Hunt.”

“Essentially, they wanted to indict anybody who happened to be breathing at the time,” Trump wrote in the Truth Social post. “It totally undermines the credibility of the findings, and badly hurts the Great State of Georgia, whose wonderful and patriotic people are not happy with this charade of an out of control ‘prosecutor’ doing the work of, and for, the DOJ. ELECTION INTERFERENCE!”

Correction: Raphael Warnock is a Democratic senator from Georgia. An earlier version misspelled his name.

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