Ethics experts and Trump critics call for Senate investigation into Graham's probe into presidential election
Three top ethics experts and prominent critics of President Donald Trump on Wednesday formally requested the Senate Ethics Committee investigate whether Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina violated the chamber's rules in his probe over how mail-in voting was conducted in the 2020 presidential election.
周三，三名顶级伦理专家和唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)总统的知名批评者正式要求参议院道德委员会调查南卡罗来纳州共和党参议员林赛·格雷厄姆(Lindsey Graham)在调查2020年总统大选邮寄投票方式时是否违反了参议院的规定。
In a letter, Walter Shaub, a former top ethics watchdog for the federal government, 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, asked the panel to look into Graham's call last week with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and whether Graham "suggested" that Raffensperger "disenfranchise Georgia voters by not counting votes lawfully cast for the office of president."
在一封信中，联邦政府前最高道德监督机构沃尔特·肖布(Walter Shaub)、乔治·W·布什(George W.Bush)政府的首席道德律师理查德·佩因特(Richard Painter)和宾夕法尼亚大学道德与法治中心(Center for道德and the Rule of Law)主任克莱尔·芬克尔斯坦(Claire Finkelstein)要求调查小组调查格雷厄姆上周与佐治亚州国务卿布拉德·拉芬斯伯格(Brad Raffensperger)的通话，以及格雷厄姆是否通过不计算合法投票来剥夺佐治亚州选民的选举权。
They also asked the panel to investigate whether Graham "threatened anyone with a Senate investigation of the Georgia vote tally."
The Senate panel reviews complaints "from virtually any source," according to its guidelines, but whether it will probe Graham is uncertain. The panel, which is evenly split between three Democrats and three Republicans, acts in secrecy and often offers little more than a slap on the wrist to admonish a senator's misconduct.
Graham told CNN "no, not at all" on Wednesday when asked if he's concerned about facing any ethics investigation.
"I get accused of everything, I'm just going to keep being me," Graham said in 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 top Trump ally, has no oversight over election matters, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Senate Rules Committee, and has faced a barrage of criticism for his interventions in the democratic process.
参议院司法委员会(Senate Judiciary Committee)主席、特朗普的头号盟友格雷厄姆(Graham)对选举事务没有监督，选举事务属于参议院规则委员会(Senate Rules Committee)的管辖范围，他因干预民主进程而面临接二连三的批评。
But he defended his call to Raffensperger, who is currently overseeing the Georgia recount, and has said that he also investigated the voting practices of Arizona and Nevada -- two other states that Joe Biden won. Graham has maintained that he's interested in protecting the integrity of absentee voting and zeroing-in on signature matching, although there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Graham has not looked into states that Trump won. Asked why not, Graham said 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 also dismissed the ethics complaint, noting that Painter and Shaub 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 should "seek an appropriate sanction or any other appropriate remedy."
这三位道德专家和特朗普的批评者在信中写道，如果指控属实，格雷厄姆的行为是“滥用职权”和“不称职的参议员”，并声称由俄克拉何马州共和党参议员詹姆斯·兰克福德(James Lankford)和特拉华州民主党参议员克里斯·库恩斯(Chris Coons)领导的道德委员会应该“寻求适当的制裁或任何其他适当的补救措施”。
"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 said on CNN's "The Situation Room" on Monday that Graham had hinted that he should try to discard some ballots in Georgia.
"It was just an implication of, 'Look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out,'" said Raffensperger.
Georgia election implementation manager Gabriel Sterling, who works for Raffensperger, said on Tuesday that he had participated in the call with Graham on Friday. Sterling said he had heard the senator ask if state officials could throw out all of the absentee ballots where a "percentage" of signatures did not "truly" match.
Graham's comments "might have gone a little to the edge of" what people deem acceptable, said Sterling. But he added that he understood why Raffensperger and Graham interpreted the conversation differently.
"The President is going to continue to fight; his supporters continue to fight," Sterling said. "Our job is to continue to follow the law, and we were answering process questions."