ATLANTA (AP) — Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff, is trying to avoid having to testify before a special Georgia grand jury investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies illegally attempted to influence the state’s 2020 elections.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened the investigation early last year, and the special grand jury was convened in May to review evidence and hear from witnesses. Willis filed a motion in August asking Meadows to testify before the panel.
Because Meadows lives outside of Georgia, Willis can’t just issue a subpoena for her testimony. Instead, she must ask a judge in South Carolina, where he lives, to order him to appear.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney in Atlanta, who is overseeing the special grand jury, signed the motion Willis filed for Meadows, certifying that he is a ‘necessary and material’ witness for the investigation. .
After receiving the documents from Willis’ office, a prosecutor in Pickens County, South Carolina, on September 9 asked a judge to schedule a hearing to determine whether Meadows should travel to Atlanta to testify. In a response filed Monday, a lawyer for Meadows asked the South Carolina judge to dismiss the request.
Attorney James Bannister argued in the court filing that Meadows exercised executive privilege, which is currently the subject of a trial in federal court, so he is not a ” important witness. Meadows claimed that privilege in a fight against subpoenas issued by the US House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
The House tried Meadows in defiance of Congress for defying the subpoena, but the Justice Department declined to prosecute.
Bannister also wrote that the court summons is now moot as she requested Meadows’ appearance on September 27, which has now passed.
Will Wooten, a prosecutor in Willis’ office, said in an October 7 affidavit filed with the South Carolina court on Monday that he understands a hearing was not scheduled on the request for constrain Meadows’ testimony due to timing. Conflicts. He provided several dates in November and asked the court to order Meadows to appear on one of those dates.
Bannister also asserted that South Carolina law governing out-of-state subpoena applications only applies to criminal proceedings and therefore does not apply because the special grand jury is a civil investigation.
The special grand jury cannot issue an indictment. Instead, he can recommend action in a report when his investigation is complete. It would then be up to Willis to decide whether or not to seek an indictment from a regular grand jury.
Despite the special grand jury’s inability to indict, McBurney wrote in response to an attempt by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to avoid or delay his testimony that this is indeed a criminal investigation.
In the petition seeking Meadows’ testimony, Willis wrote that Meadows attended a Dec. 21, 2020 meeting at the White House with Trump and others “to discuss allegations of voter fraud and certification of electoral college votes. of Georgia and other states”. The next day, Willis wrote, Meadows made a “surprise visit” to Cobb County, just outside Atlanta, where an audit of signatures on mail-in ballot envelopes was underway. He asked to observe the audit but was not allowed to as it was not open to the public, the petition states.
Meadows also sent emails to Justice Department officials alleging voter fraud in Georgia and elsewhere and asking for investigations, Willis wrote. And he participated in a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump suggested the state’s top election official could “find” enough votes to overturn his low. electoral defeat in the state.
Meadows is among a number of high-level Trump associates whose testimony Willis has requested. Former New York City Mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was told he could face criminal charges as part of the investigation, testified in August. Attorneys John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro also appeared before the panel.
US Senator Lindsey Graham’s attempt to challenge his subpoena was thrown out last week by a federal appeals court and he asked the US Supreme Court to intervene. Others whose testimony is being sought include former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and former Speaker of the United States House Newt Gingrich.