Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows must testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state, a South Carolina judge ruled Wednesday.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) has said her inquiry is examining “the multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.” Because Meadows does not live in Georgia, she could not subpoena him to testify, but she filed a petition in August for him to do so.
South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edward Miller ruled Wednesday that Meadows must comply with a subpoena as his testimony is “material and necessary to the investigation and that the state of Georgia is assuring not to cause undue hardship to him.”
The ruling was confirmed Wednesday by Jeff DiSantis, a spokesman for Willis. DiSantis said Meadows would not be called until after the midterm elections.
A lawyer for Meadows said Wednesday that there is a possibility of an appeal or additional legal action.
“There may be additional proceedings before the trial judge before any decision is made about an appeal,” said Meadows’s lawyer, George J. Terwilliger.
Meadows, who served four terms as a congressman from North Carolina before becoming Trump’s White House chief of staff, has helped promote Trump’s baseless claims that widespread voter fraud delivered the presidency to Joe Biden. Meadows has said he now lives in South Carolina, although he registered to vote in 2020 using the address of a North Carolina mobile home.
In her petition seeking Meadows’s testimony, Willis noted Meadows’s participation in a telephone call Trump made on Jan. 2, 2021, to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) asking him to “find” 11,780 votes that would enable Trump to defeat Biden in the state.
Willis wrote that she also was interested in testimony regarding a Dec. 21, 2020, meeting Meadows attended at the White House with Trump and others “to discuss allegations of voter fraud and the certification of electoral college votes from Georgia and other states.”
Willis also noted in the petition that on Dec. 22, 2020, Meadows “made a surprise visit” to the Cobb County Civic Center in Marietta, Ga., where the Georgia secretary of state’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation were conducting an audit of signatures on absentee ballots.
There, Meadows “requested to personally observe the audit process but was prevented from doing so because the audit was not open to the public,” Willis wrote.
Meadows had sought to kill the Georgia subpoena, citing executive privilege and making the argument that the Georgia special grand jury is conducting a civil inquiry and that it is not a criminal proceeding that would require his testimony. Willis has said the investigation being conducted by a special grand jury has criminal acts as its focus.
Meadows’s South Carolina lawyer, James W. Bannister, argued in court filings that the subpoena was moot because the September date on which his testimony was originally sought has passed.
The Meadows ruling came Wednesday as another prominent Republican, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), has appealed to the Supreme Court to block a request for his testimony.
Graham has argued that he is shielded from having to testify by constitutional protections provided to lawmakers conducting official business.
Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday put a temporary hold on an order that Graham appear. The brief order appears to be an attempt to maintain the status quo as Graham’s petition to the Supreme Court advances. Prosecutors face a Thursday deadline for responding to Graham’s request, which usually means the full court will consider the issue.
Last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit unanimously turned down an attempt by Graham to block a subpoena from Willis. Graham claimed in that court that a sitting senator is shielded from testifying in such investigations.
Despite resistance from Graham, Meadows and others, the Georgia grand jury has heard testimony from prominent Trump advisers, including lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman. Requests for testimony are pending from former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser.
Many Georgia Republican officials have testified. The list includes Raffensperger and his staff, Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr (R), state lawmakers and local election workers. The state’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, filed a 121-page motion in August seeking to kill a subpoena requiring his testimony. The judge overseeing the inquiry agreed to delay the governor’s appearance until after the 2022 election. Kemp is seeking reelection.