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Lindsey Graham's Appeal, Supreme Court's Refusal, and Steve Bannon's Sentencing

A federal appeals court rules that Senator Graham must testify in Georgia's 2020 election interference case, the Supreme Court allows President Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness Program to move forward, and Steve Bannon is sentenced for contempt of Congress.
Lindsey Graham's Appeal, Supreme Court's Refusal, and Steve Bannon's Sentencing

A federal appeals court Thursday rejected Sen. Lindsey Graham's bid to avoid testifying before an Atlanta grand jury investigating whether former President Donald Trump interfered in the 2020 election, ruling that the staunch Trump ally had "failed to demonstrate" that his appeal of a lower court's order would succeed, reports USA Today.

Appeals court rejects Lindsey Graham's bid to avoid testifying before Atlanta election fraud grand jury (USA Today)

Excerpt from USA Today: The South Carolina Republican has asserted that he was engaging in legitimate inquiries as a lawmaker when he contacted a Georgia official following the 2020 election. Graham citied the Constitution's speech and debate clause, asserting that the provision "provides absolute protection against inquiry into Senator Graham’s legislative acts." At least twice, Graham called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff weeks after the November 2020 election, trying to re-examine absentee ballots "to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome" for Trump, according to court documents. U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May had ruled that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading a wide-ranging inquiry into election interference, had "shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2020 elections."
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According to Politico, a three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the South Carolina Republican’s claim that he is constitutionally immune from such questioning.

Federal court rules Georgia prosecutors can force Lindsey Graham to testify (Politico)

Excerpt from Politico: Though Graham may not be questioned about any conversations he had in support of his legislative activity, the panel ruled, prosecutors may question him about his "coordination" with the Trump campaign to arrange his calls with Georgia officials, as well as efforts to pressure those officials amid their ongoing audit of Georgia’s presidential election results. Graham’s lawyers and Senate office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision, but have previously said that they would seek relief from the Supreme Court if the appeals court declined to step in. If Graham’s attorneys can’t get emergency help from the high court, the senator will have to appear before the special grand jury or risk prosecution for contempt of court. 
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UPDATE: Late Friday, Senator Graham asked the Supreme Court for a stay while he appeals the ruling, and, if necessary, a ruling enjoining the special grand jury from questioning him until the appeal is resolved. The filing notes that Mr. Graham was issued a fresh subpoena on Friday compelling him to testify on Nov. 17. (New York Times)

In another ongoing legal battle, the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to block the rollout of the Biden administration's student debt relief plan, allowing the program to move forward – at least for now. Loan forgiveness is scheduled to begin as early as Sunday, writes NPR.

The Supreme Court won't block the student loan debt relief program, at least for now (NPR)

Excerpt from NPR: Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who is assigned to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, was the one who received the emergency application. Presumably the court's other justices agreed with her decision. Within hours of the Supreme Court action, another closely watched challenge to the program, this one brought by six GOP-led states, was tossed out by a federal district court in Missouri. The emergency request to the Supreme Court was brought by the Brown County Taxpayers Association, a Wisconsin organization made up of around 100 taxpaying individuals and business owners that advocates for conservative economic policy. Broadly, the organization argues that the U.S. Department of Education is acting outside of its administrative authority by forgiving student loans. 
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UPDATE: Late Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit granted an administrative stay while it considers a request for an injunction filed by a coalition of six Republican-led states seeking to block the forgiveness program. While it is unknown when the court will decide the case, it has agreed to an expedited briefing on the motion. In the meantime, the appeals court is instructing the Biden administration to stand down on discharging debt under the relief effort. (Washington Post)

And finally, Stephen Bannon, a longtime adviser to former President Donald J. Trump who aided in the effort to overturn the 2020 election, was sentenced on Friday to four months in prison for disobeying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, reports the New York Times.

Bannon Sentenced to 4 Months in Prison for Contempt of Congress (New York Times)

Excerpt from the New York Times: Mr. Bannon, 68, was found guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress this summer after Judge Carl J. Nichols rejected an array of arguments offered by Mr. Bannon’s defense team, including that he was protected by executive privilege from being compelled to testify. "Others must be deterred from committing similar crimes," said Judge Nichols, a Trump appointee, who also imposed a fine of $6,500 on Mr. Bannon. Mr. Bannon will remain free pending his appeal. The sentence, coming a year after Mr. Bannon was held in contempt by the House, is two months short of what federal prosecutors had requested this week. Shortly after, the committee formally issued its subpoena to Mr. Trump requesting that he sit for a deposition and turn over documents next month.
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