Lindsey Graham Critics Want Probes, Judiciary Resignation Over Georgia Ballot Claims

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been urged to quit as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman while demands mount for inquiries into allegations he suggested Georgia's secretary of state toss legal ballots.

Brad Raffensperger claimed in an interview with The Washington Post that the South Carolina Republican asked if he could scrap all mail-in ballots from counties with higher rates of nonmatching signatures.

The Post reported that Raffensperger was stunned as he felt Graham was suggesting he consider means to oust ballots which were cast legally.

Graham has denied this characterization and insisting he thought they had a "good conversation."

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's Executive Director Noah Bookbinder, in a statement on the allegations, said: "For the chairman of the Senate committee charged with oversight of our legal system to have reportedly suggested that an election official toss out large numbers of legal ballots from American voters is appalling.

"Not only is it wrong for Senator Graham to apparently contemplate illegal behavior, but his suggestion undermines the integrity of our elections and the faith of the American people in our democracy."

Bookbinder likened the alleged actions to election fraud, before urging Graham to quit his position on the Judiciary Committee.

"Under the guise of rooting out election fraud, it looks like Graham is suggesting committing it. That is unacceptable, and Senator Graham should step down from his chairmanship immediately," he said.

Walter Shaub, former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, said even if Graham's version of the call is a true account it would still appear coercive—also suggesting the Senator should leave his Judiciary Committee post.

"Why is the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee calling Georgia's Secretary of State to discuss mechanics of an ongoing ballot count? Such a call would be implicitly coercive in the best case, even without Graham's alleged suggestion about throwing out lawful votes," he tweeted.

"Even if one were to accept Graham's version of the story, the call's a scandal that should lead to his immediate resignation. The republic won't survive Senate committee chairs calling election officials from their own party to discuss vote counting before a final verdict."

lindsey graham
Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) makes a statement after voting in the Judiciary Committee to move the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court out of committee and on to the Senate for a full vote on October 22, 2020 in Washington, D.C. He has faced calls to resign from his post over accusations he discussed the prospect of tossing legal ballots with Georgia's secretary of state. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

As well as these calls, there have also been several demands for investigations into his alleged actions.

Kristen Clarke, president of Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told MSNBC the accusations were "deeply disturbing, incredibly troubling."

She said the Senate should open an ethics inquiry to determine if the allegations are true and that the Justice Department should also investigate.

Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, also said the situation posed a "real test" for the Senate Ethics Committee.

"We have a real test for the Senate Ethics Committee, one I expect they will fail, over Lindsey Graham's apparent illegal and immoral pressure on GA Sec of State to toss legal ballots," he tweeted. "Worthy of expulsion, at least censure."

Jaime Harrison, who ran as the Democrat nominee against Graham over his South Carolina Senate seat, branded the allegations "disgusting, sickening and criminal."

Sharing a link to The Washington Post's story, he said: "This is exactly what I talked about for 2 years.... folks like Lindsey don't give a damn about our democracy or your rights—only about power!

"I hope the Biden DOJ investigates this."

These calls come amid a mounting backlash from Democrats over the claims against Graham.

Graham's communications director, Kevin Bishop, responding to a comment request from Newsweek said Tuesday morning: "Graham is chairing a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee right now."

This was referring to a hearing looking into how big tech companies handled the 2020 election.

Newsweek has contacted the Senate Ethics Committee and the Justice Department for comment on potential investigations.

Update 11/17/20, 10:55 a.m. ET: This page was updated with comment from Graham's Communications Director Kevin Bishop.