A South Carolina judge ruled Wednesday that former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows must appear in court to testify in an Atlanta-area grand jury investigation into 2020 election interference.
“I will find the witness important and necessary to the investigation, and the State of Georgia is making sure that undue hardship will not be caused to him,” Judge Edward Miller – sitting in ordinary court in southern Pickens County. CAROLINA – said at the end of Wednesday morning’s hearing.
The matter went to a judge in South Carolina because Meadows now lives in South Carolina, where prosecutors in the Atlanta district sought an order to compel him to comply with a subpoena.
Meadows plans to appeal the ruling, his attorney James Bannister told CNN.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, which is leading the Georgia special grand jury investigation, said in court filings that there are multiple dates in November to accommodate Meadows’ testimony.
Meadows’ arguments about why he didn’t have to comply with the subpoena were met with skepticism by a South Carolina judge who questioned the relevance of some of the evidence Meadows’ attorneys tried to present at the hearing, which lasted less than an hour. Mueller also joined in when Niester’s questions to prosecutors involved in the Atlanta investigation indicated the partisan motives of the investigation.
“This is not a political hearing,” Miller told Bannister, calling the line of inquiry “far apart” from the South Carolina court dispute.
The judge said some of the legal arguments Meadows made were ones that other courts could consider, but were not relevant to the decision before him.
CNN reporter details Meadows text from pro-Trump agent
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is leading a special-purpose grand jury investigation into an attempt to rig Georgia’s 2020 election results. The investigation was sparked by an infamous phone call between Trump and the Georgia secretary of state, in which Trump asked Secretary of State Brad Raffinsberg to “find” the votes that would ensure his victory. But the investigation has expanded to include fake voter conspiracies, statements made by Trump allies to Georgia lawmakers promoting false voter fraud allegations, and other Trump World conspiracies from that period.
Atlanta-area investigators asked Meadows to testify that he was involved in the Trump-Rafensberg conference call and a December 2020 White House meeting on election fraud allegations touted by Meadows. Their documents also mention his visit to a website that was conducting an audit of Georgia’s elections, as well as emails Meadows sent to Justice Department officials about unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.
Meadows argued in court filings that the South Carolina law used by the Fulton County District Attorney to compel him to appear in court does not apply to the subpoena. Meadow’s attorneys also highlighted concerns about executive privilege at the hearing, noting his ongoing federal court lawsuit challenging a House select committee subpoena on Jan. 6.
Will Wooten — the deputy district attorney in Willis’ office who testified as a witness at the hearing — noted that Meadows apparently traveled to the Georgia audit site alone. “There are multiple places where executive privilege doesn’t exist,” Wooten said.
Other former Trump allies, including his then-lawyer Jenna Ellis, have made similar challenges to the Fulton County investigation subpoena — but so far, most have been unsuccessful. However, a Texas attorney involved in making representations to Georgia lawmakers was able to defeat Willis’ office in such a subpoena dispute.
A prays at Sen. Lindsey Graham stopped a subpoena investigation into his testimony now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
This story has been updated with more details.