another Raffensperger aide, Gabriel Sterling. Mr. Graham has said that it is “ridiculous” to suggest he was asking for votes to be thrown out.

During a hearing in federal court this month, Brian C. Lea, one of Mr. Graham’s lawyers, said: “We have one phone call, and that phone call has been described by everybody. Everybody acknowledges that it is about electoral process and about verification of absentee ballots, how you ensure security.”

He said the “only dispute” was brought about by Mr. Raffensperger’s account that it was implied that legal ballots should be thrown out. “Strip away the implication that Secretary of State Raffensperger claims to have picked up, all you have is a conversation about electoral process.” Legal precedent, he argued, meant that “motive is irrelevant.”

But Judge May told Mr. Graham’s lawyers that it was critical to understand why the call was made.

“You keep saying that it’s improper for the court to look at motive, but how can I classify an act as political or legislative without knowing why the act was done?”

Knowing what happened around the call could prove critical to Ms. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney.

“The judge in her decision, and the D.A. in her filing, have outlined several different topics beyond the content of the call that could influence the D.A.’s charging decision,” said Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, a former district attorney of neighboring DeKalb County. “This includes whether there is sufficient evidence of a connection between anything Senator Graham did or said and the former president’s allies — or even the former president himself — to establish some of the elements of a possible conspiracy or RICO charge.”

Brookings Institution report on the case that found that Mr. Trump himself was “at substantial risk of possible state charges predicated on multiple crimes.” The report called the suggestion that all mail-in ballots from certain counties be disqualified “extreme and bizarre.”

U.S. Office of Government Ethics, wrote to the chair and vice chair of the Senate ethics committee, decrying Mr. Graham’s contact with Mr. Raffensperger, which took place as Georgia elections officials were conducting a hand recount.

they wrote. “The allegation that Senator Graham placed a behind-the-scenes call to a member of his own political party, without having launched a formal investigation, suggests that he hoped to act out of public view.”

The two other signatories of the complaint, the law professors Claire O. Finkelstein of the University of Pennsylvania and Richard W. Painter of the University of Minnesota said on Wednesday that the ethics committee had not been in touch with them or Mr. Shaub about the complaint, other than to acknowledge that they had received it. The ethics committee staff did not return calls for comment.

Michael J. Moore, a former U.S. attorney in the state, said Mr. Graham “should be afraid of being wrapped up in any conspiracy indictment.”

“I wouldn’t even want to show up as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case she is trying to build,” he added, referring to Ms. Willis. “I don’t know that her RICO efforts will survive appeals,” he said, but Mr. Graham “still wouldn’t want to be in it.”

head-spinning relationship with Mr. Trump. First he was a critic, then a fierce advocate, particularly after the election. But on Jan. 6, 2021, as blood and broken glass were still being cleaned from the U.S. Capitol after the riot by a pro-Trump mob, he declared on the Senate floor, “Count me out” and “Enough is enough.” Two days later, he was jeered as a traitor by Trump supporters at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington. Within weeks, he was back on Mr. Trump’s golf course at Mar-a-Lago.

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