Ethics experts and Trump critics call for Senate investigation into Graham’s probe into presidential election

In a letter, Walter Shaub, a former high ethics watchdog for the federal authorities, Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush’s administration, and Claire Finkelstein, the director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, requested the panel to look into Graham’s call final week with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and whether or not Graham “suggested” that Raffensperger “disenfranchise Georgia voters by not counting votes lawfully cast for the office of president.”

They additionally requested the panel to analyze whether or not Graham “threatened anyone with a Senate investigation of the Georgia vote tally.”

The Senate panel evaluations complaints “from virtually any source,” in line with its pointers, however whether or not it is going to probe Graham is unsure. The panel, which is evenly cut up between three Democrats and three Republicans, acts in secrecy and typically presents little greater than a slap on the wrist to admonish a senator’s misconduct.

Graham instructed CNN “no, not at all” on Wednesday when requested if he is involved about dealing with any ethics investigation.

“I get accused of everything, I’m just going to keep being me,” Graham stated within the Capitol. “I called up the Secretary of State to find out how you verify a signature and what database you use because I think it’s important that if we’re going to vote by mail, we get it right.”

Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a high Trump ally, has no oversight over election issues, which falls underneath the jurisdiction of the Senate Rules Committee, and has confronted a barrage of criticism for his interventions within the democratic course of.

But he defended his call to Raffensperger, who’s presently overseeing the Georgia recount, and has stated that he also investigated the voting practices of Arizona and Nevada — two different states that Joe Biden gained. Graham has maintained that he is concerned with defending the integrity of absentee voting and zeroing-in on signature matching, though there isn’t any proof of widespread voter fraud.

Graham has not seemed into states that Trump gained. Asked why not, Graham stated Wednesday “because they’re not in question. I mean, we’re looking at states where there’s a contest. I’m not looking at states that he lost. I’m looking at states where there’s a challenge.”

Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop additionally dismissed the ethics grievance, noting that Painter and Schaub are “long-time, frequent and vocal critics of Sen. Graham.”

In the letter, the three ethics experts and Trump critics wrote that if the allegations are true, Graham’s conduct is “an abuse of office” and “unbecoming of a senator,” and claimed that the Ethics committee led by Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons ought to “seek an appropriate sanction or any other appropriate remedy.”

“For the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to suggest to a state Secretary of State that he refrain from counting lawful votes threatens the electoral process and damages representative democracy,” they wrote.

Raffensperger stated on CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Monday that Graham had hinted that he ought to attempt to discard some ballots in Georgia.

“It was just an implication of, ‘Look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out,'” stated Raffensperger.

Georgia election implementation supervisor Gabriel Sterling, who works for Raffensperger, stated on Tuesday that he had participated within the call with Graham on Friday. Sterling stated he had heard the senator ask if state officers may throw out all the absentee ballots the place a “percentage” of signatures didn’t “truly” match.

Graham’s feedback “might have gone a little to the edge of” what folks deem acceptable, stated Sterling. But he added that he understood why Raffensperger and Graham interpreted the dialog in a different way.

“The President is going to continue to fight; his supporters continue to fight,” Sterling stated. “Our job is to continue to follow the law, and we were answering process questions.”

CNN’s Sarah Fortinsky and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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