NATIONAL NEWS

Trump aide Meadows ordered to testify in election probe

Oct 26, 2022, 11:53 AM
FILE: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows walks along the South Lawn before President Donald Tr...
FILE: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows walks along the South Lawn before President Donald Trump departs from the White House on Oct. 30, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

ATLANTA (AP) — A judge on Wednesday ordered former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to testify before a special grand jury that’s investigating whether President Donald Trump and his allies illegally tried to influence Georgia’s 2020 election.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened the investigation early last year into actions taken by Trump and others to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden. Meadows is one of several associates and advisers of the Republican former president whose testimony Willis has sought.

Because Meadows doesn’t live in Georgia, Willis, a Democrat, had to use a process that involved getting a judge where he lives in South Carolina to order him to appear. First, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who’s overseeing the special grand jury, signed off on the petition, certifying that Meadows was a “necessary and material witness.”

Now, Circuit Court Judge Edward Miller in Pickens County, South Carolina, has honored McBurney’s finding and ordered Meadows to testify, Willis spokesman Jeff DiSantis confirmed.

Meadows attorney James Bannister could not immediately be reached for comment.

Willis has been fighting similar battles — mostly with success — in courts around the country as she seeks to compel Trump allies to testify. An appeals court in Texas has indicated it may not recognize the validity of the Georgia summonses for potential witnesses who live there, and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene after a federal appeals court last week ordered him to testify.

Meadows is a key witness as the special grand jury investigates whether Trump and his allies sought to illegally influence the election. The former GOP congressman was at the center of Trump’s plans to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden. Meadows traveled to Georgia, sat in on Trump’s phone calls with state officials and coordinated and communicated with outside influencers who were either encouraging or discouraging the pressure campaign.

In the petition seeking Meadows’ testimony, Willis wrote that he 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 from 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 absentee ballot envelopes was being conducted. He asked to observe the audit but wasn’t allowed to because it wasn’t open to the public, the petition says.

Meadows also sent emails to Justice Department officials after the election alleging voter fraud in Georgia and elsewhere and requesting investigations, Willis wrote. And Meadows took part in a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, during which Trump suggested that Raffensperger, the state’s top elections official and a Republican, could “find” enough votes to overturn the president’s narrow loss in the state.

In a court filing this week, Meadows’ lawyer Bannister argued that executive privilege and other rights shield his client from testifying.

Bannister asserted in the filing that Meadows has been instructed by Trump “to preserve certain privileges and immunities attaching to his former office as White House Chief of Staff.” And Willis’ petition calls for him “to divulge the contents of executive privileged communications with the President,” Bannister wrote.

Meadows previously invoked that privilege in a fight against subpoenas issued by the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Meadows has been fighting investigations into the violent 2021 insurrection since last year and has so far avoided having to testify about his role and his knowledge of the former president’s actions. He turned over thousands of texts to the House Jan. 6 committee before eventually refusing to do an interview.

The House held Meadows in contempt of Congress for defying the subpoena, but the Justice Department declined to prosecute.

Special grand juries in Georgia cannot issue indictments. Instead, they can gather evidence and compel testimony and then can recommend further action, including criminal charges, in a final report. It is ultimately up to the district attorney to decide whether to seek an indictment from a regular grand jury.

Grand jury secrecy is “paramount” in South Carolina, Bannister wrote. Because the special grand jury is expected to ultimately issue a public report, ordering Meadows to testify would violate his state right to privacy, Bannister argued.

McBurney, the Fulton County Superior Court judge, has made clear in rulings on other attempts by potential witnesses to avoid or delay testimony that he considers the special grand jury’s investigation to be a criminal proceeding. He has also stressed the need for the secrecy of the panel’s workings.

____

Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

A man accused of kidnapping and torturing a woman in southwest Oregon knew his victim before the at...
Lucy Kafanov, Elizabeth Wolfe and Jeremy Harlan

Man accused of severely beating, kidnapping Oregon woman knew his victim, police say

A man accused of kidnapping and torturing a woman in southwest Oregon knew his victim before the attack, police tell CNN, as the week-long search for the suspect continues.
20 hours ago
Artic weather leads to canceled flights...
Lilit Marcus, CNN

More than 1,800 flights canceled Tuesday, hundreds more on Wednesday

More than 1,800 flights were canceled and many more were delayed on Tuesday as a brutal ice storm continued to hit parts of the South and central United States, bringing a second day of transport problems.
20 hours ago
The booking photo for Aaron Michael Zeman, also known as Tadashi Kura Kojima. ( Hall County Departm...
Michael Houck

Layton Amber Alert suspect charged with kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a minor

The Arizona man who is suspected of kidnapping a Layton boy has been charged with multiple felonies Tuesday. 
20 hours ago
Priscilla Presley speaks at the public memorial for Lisa Marie Presley at Graceland on January 22, ...
Andrew Dalton, Associated Press

Priscilla Presley disputes trust of late Lisa Marie Presley

Priscilla Presley has filed legal documents disputing who oversees the estate of her late daughter Lisa Marie Presley.
20 hours ago
This photo provided by the Dallas Zoo shows an emperor tamarins that lives at the zoo. Two monkeys ...
Andi Babineau and Elizabeth Wolfe

After monkeys stolen and animals enclosures cut open, Dallas Zoo releases photo of suspect

For the fourth time this month, the Dallas Zoo finds tampering with their animals and their enclosures, including one dead bird.
20 hours ago
A Qantas Boeing 747-400, registration VH-OEJ,  passes over Sydney's Eastern Suburbs as it departs S...
Gene Johnson, Associated Press

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It's delivering its final 747 jumbo jet.
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Trump aide Meadows ordered to testify in election probe