FILE - Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., listens during a hearing on the fiscal year 2023 budget for the FBI in Washington, on May 25, 2022. Attorneys for Graham said in a court filing on July 13, he wasn't trying to interfere in Georgia's 2020 election when he called state officials to ask them to reexamine certain absentee ballots after President Donald Trump's narrow loss to Democrat Joe Biden. (Ting Shen/Pool Photo via AP, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham must testify before a special grand jury investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in Georgia, a federal appeals court said Thursday.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals paves the way for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to bring Graham in for questioning as she tries to wrap up the investigation. She has said she hopes to be able to “send the grand jury on their way” by the end of the year.

Graham could appeal the ruling to the full appellate court. An attorney for Graham deferred comment to a spokesman for the senator’s office, which did not immediately comment on the ruling.

Willis has said she wants to question the South Carolina Republican about phone calls he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top elections official, in the weeks after the 2020 election. Raffensperger has said he interpreted questions about whether he could reject certain absentee ballots as a suggestion to reject legally cast votes.

Graham has challenged his subpoena, saying his position as a U.S. senator protects him from having to testify in the state investigation. He has denied any wrongdoing.