UPDATED: Georgia congressman fights subpoena from Fulton grand jury

Congressman Jody Hice, R-Ga., speaks during a rally featuring former President Donald Trump in Perry, Georgia, on Sept. 25, 2021. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Congressman Jody Hice, R-Ga., speaks during a rally featuring former President Donald Trump in Perry, Georgia, on Sept. 25, 2021. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images/TNS)

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice on Monday became the second member of Congress to challenge a subpoena issued by the Fulton County special grand jury examining Georgia’s 2020 elections.

A lawyer for Hice filed a motion in Fulton County Superior Court seeking to remove the matter to federal court. A judge agreed to the request and the Greensboro Republican’s attorney then submitted a memo detailing why Hice shouldn’t be forced to testify.

Like U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who is expected to make his case before a federal judge in the days ahead, Hice is citing the Constitution’s “Speech or Debate” clause, which shields members of the House and Senate from being questioned in court about their legislative activities and the motivations behind them.

“Simply put, Congressman Hice had a right and a duty to inform himself and colleagues about any allegations relating to the election so that he could properly vote on whether to certify the election in his capacity as a member of Congress,” Attorney Loree Anne Paradise argued in the memo.

Paradise called on the judge to quash Hice’s subpoena, which was approved by the special grand jury on June 29th. Hice was called to testify at the Fulton courthouse on July 19.

Judge Leigh Martin May of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia scheduled a hearing on the issue for July 25.

Hice has served as a member of the U.S. House since 2015. He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for secretary of state this spring against incumbent Brad Raffensperger. Armed with the endorsement of Donald Trump, he promoted many of the same falsehoods of widespread election fraud that have been championed by the former president.

In late 2020, Hice joined a Texas legal challenge seeking to invalidate Georgia’s election results at the Supreme Court. He introduced an objection to Georgia’s election results as Congress tallied Electoral College votes hours after the Jan. 6 insurrection and caught flack for publishing — and later deleting — a social media post calling that day’s protests “our 1776 moment.” (His aides said the post was not an endorsement of the deadly attack.)

A longtime member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, Hice maintained close relationships with several members of Trump’s inner circle, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Congressman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

He attended a Dec. 21, 2020, White House strategy meeting with Meadows, Jordan, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and other GOP lawmakers, according to the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attacks. Attendees allegedly discussed organizing a slate of “alternative” GOP electors who would declare Trump the winner of the election, as well as pressing Vice President Mike Pence to disregard the true Democratic electors in Georgia and six other swing states.

Paradise’s memo said that Hice wasn’t sure what prosecutors and the grand jury want to talk to him about. But she said that the congressman was “acting squarely within his Congressional jurisdiction” in the aftermath of the 2020 elections and that his actions can’t be questioned in any legal proceeding.

Hice serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform and Natural Resources committees.

The memo also argued that the Fulton District Attorney’s office should only come to Hice in extraordinary circumstances in which they can’t get the information from anybody else because Hice, as a member of Congress, is a high-ranking government official with special legal protections.

“The District Attorney bears the burden of demonstrating that Congressman Hice not only has first-hand knowledge of the information sought, but also that the information may not be obtained from other sources, such as other individuals who may have been in discussions or meetings that are of interest to the District Attorney, who are not high-ranking officials,” Paradise wrote in the memo. “It is unlikely that (Fulton DA Fani Willis) will be able to show such extraordinary circumstances.

It’s unclear whether any other current or former members of Georgia’s congressional delegation have been subpoenaed by the special grand jury. But Willis recently informed multiple GOP state legislators, as well as state Republican Party Chairman David Shafer, that they’re targets of her investigation.

Hice is retiring from the House at the end of the year.

Staff writer Bill Rankin contributed to this article.

Recent developments:

  • Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis informed at least three people affiliated with the scheme to appoint “alternate” Republican electors in Georgia, including GOP Chairman David Shafer and two state senators, that they are targets of the investigation and could be indicted.
  • State Sen. Burt Jones of Jackson, the Republican lieutenant governor nominee, received a target letter from Willis. He fought back with a motion that seeks to sideline Willis because she held a fundraiser for his Democratic opponent.
  • U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., filed a motion to quash his subpoena in federal court. A South Carolina judge is expected to hold a hearing on the motion in the days ahead in Charleston.
  • Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, testified before the special grand jury last week. He received phone calls from then-President Donald Trump and attorney Rudy Giuliani in Dec. 2020.