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Lindsey Graham's post-election Georgia efforts face new scrutiny

The district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, is reportedly taking a look at Lindsey Graham's intervention with state election officials in November.
Image: GOP Senators Hold News Conference To Announce Opposition To DC Statehood
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Sc., attends a press conference announcing Senate Republicans' opposition to D.C. statehood on Capitol Hill on July 1, 2020.Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images file

As if Donald Trump didn't have enough legal troubles, things took a turn for the worse last week when Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, moved forward with plans to investigate the former president's post-election efforts in the state as a possible criminal matter. Trump, of course, famously urged state election officials to "find" enough votes to flip the state in his favor.

But as it turns out, he's not the only one facing scrutiny. The Washington Post reported over the weekend:

An Atlanta-area prosecutor plans to scrutinize a post-Election Day phone call between Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as part of a criminal investigation into whether former president Donald Trump or his allies broke Georgia laws while trying to reverse his defeat in the state, according to a person familiar with the probe.

The reporting, which has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, added that Willis' inquiry "will include an examination of the call Graham, a staunch Trump ally, made to Raffensperger 10 days after the Nov. 3 election."

Though the story was eclipsed by other events, the allegations from November were quite striking.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, the Washington Post got the ball rolling with this report, published three months ago tomorrow, in which Georgia's Republican secretary of state said Graham -- at the time, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- contacted him directly to question the validity of legally cast absentee ballots

In their conversation, Graham questioned Raffensperger about the state's signature-matching law and whether political bias could have prompted poll workers to accept ballots with nonmatching signatures, according to Raffensperger. Graham also asked whether Raffensperger had the power to toss all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of nonmatching signatures, Raffensperger said.

The article added that the Georgia secretary of state was "stunned that Graham appeared to suggest that he find a way to toss legally cast ballots."

For his part, Graham conceded that he had a conversation with Raffensperger about ballots, but the senator denied that he suggested throwing out legally cast ballots, calling the allegation "ridiculous." The Trump ally went on to tell reporters, "If he feels threatened by that conversation, he's got a problem."

Raffensperger nevertheless insisted his version of events is the correct one, telling CNN in November that the "implication" of Graham's message was, "Look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out."

Not surprisingly, congressional Democrats seized on the controversy, describing Graham's alleged actions as "shameful," "despicable" and "a major scandal." Some called for Graham's resignation, others raised the prospect of a Senate ethics investigation.

But others still raised the question of whether Graham crossed legal lines with his alleged abuse. Andrew Weissman, a longtime Justice Department official who helped lead Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, went so far as to characterize the senator's alleged actions as a possible "felony."

Now, if the latest reporting is correct, the local district attorney's office is taking a closer look at the matter.