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Georgia Panel Recommended Charging Lindsey Graham in Trump Case

A special grand jury that investigated election interference allegations in Georgia recommended indicting a number of Trump allies who were not charged, including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the former senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, and Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser.

In its final report, which a judge unsealed on Friday, the panel also recommended charges against Boris Epshteyn, one of former President Donald J. Trump’s main lawyers, as well as a number of other Trump-aligned lawyers, including Cleta Mitchell and Lin Wood.

Mr. Trump and 18 allies were charged in a racketeering indictment that was handed up last month by a regular grand jury in Fulton County, Ga.

The special grand jury, which Fulton County prosecutors convened to help with the investigation, met at an Atlanta courthouse from June to December of last year. It spent much of that time hearing testimony from 75 witnesses on the question of whether Mr. Trump or any of his allies had sought to illegally overturn his 2020 election loss in the state.

Under Georgia law, the panel could not issue indictments itself. In the Trump case, that task fell to a regular grand jury that was seated over the summer. The regular grand jury heard evidence from prosecutors for one day in early August before voting to indict all 19 defendants whom prosecutors had sought to charge.

The special grand jury’s mandate was to write a report with recommendations on whether indictments were warranted in the investigation, which was led by Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney. Ms. Willis asked to convene a special grand jury because such panels have subpoena powers, and she was concerned that some witnesses would not cooperate without being subpoenaed.

Portions of the report were publicly released in February, but those excerpts did not indicate who had been recommended for indictment, or on what charges. The release of the full nine-page report this week was ordered by Judge Robert C.I. McBurney of Fulton County Superior Court.

Read the Report by the Special Grand Jury in Georgia That Investigated President Trump

The special grand jury investigated whether Mr. Trump interfered in the 2020 election in the state. Their report included recommendations on whether indictments were warranted, and for whom.

Read Document

Mr. Epshteyn declined on Friday to comment about the report. Others whom the advisory panel recommended for indictment did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

After the special grand jury recommended indictments of about 40 people, the district attorney had to weigh which prosecutions would be the most likely to succeed in court. A potential case against Mr. Graham, for example, would have been hampered by the fact that there were conflicting accounts of telephone calls he made to a top Georgia official. Mr. Graham has repeatedly said that he did nothing wrong.

Fulton County prosecutors indicated in court filings last year that they were interested in those calls by Mr. Graham, a onetime critic of Mr. Trump who became a staunch supporter. They were made shortly after the November 2020 election to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state.

Mr. Raffensperger has said that in those calls, Mr. Graham suggested the rejection of all mail-in votes from Georgia counties with high rates of questionable signatures, a step that would have excluded many more Democratic votes than Republican ones. But the phone calls are not known to have been recorded, and recollections differ about exactly what was said — factors that probably figured in the decision not to charge Mr. Graham.

In a filing seeking Mr. Graham’s testimony, prosecutors said that he “questioned Secretary Raffensperger and his staff about re-examining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump,” and “made reference to allegations of widespread voter fraud” during those calls.

A few weeks after the calls, Mr. Trump followed up with a call of his own to Mr. Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, saying that he wanted to “find” roughly 12,000 votes, enough to reverse his loss in Georgia. Mr. Trump’s call, which was recorded, is the basis for a number of charges in the 98-page indictment.

Mr. Graham has characterized as “ridiculous” the idea that he had suggested to Mr. Raffensperger that he throw out legally cast votes, and the senator’s lawyers have argued that he was carrying out a legitimate investigative function as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In a bid to avoid testifying before the special grand jury last year, Mr. Graham waged a legal battle that made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ultimately, he was forced to testify.

Afterward, he said that he had spent two hours giving testimony behind closed doors, where he said he “answered all questions.”

Mr. Graham has been critical of prosecutors in the Georgia case and the three other criminal cases against Mr. Trump, characterizing them as liberals who were “weaponizing the law” to unfairly target the former president.

After the Georgia indictment, Mr. Graham told reporters in South Carolina that he was not cooperating with the Fulton County prosecutors, dismissing the idea as “crazy stuff.”

“I went, had my time, and I haven’t heard from them since,” he said.

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