Ex-Trump adviser Meadows tries to block Georgia election probe subpoena

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows during the America First Agenda Summit at the America First Policy Institute in Washington, DC on Monday, July 25, 2022.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows asked a South Carolina judge to block a subpoena demanding his testimony before a Georgia grand jury investigating possible criminal interference in the 2020 presidential election.

Meadows’ request Monday afternoon came hours after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas issued a similar subpoena requesting the same grand jury to Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C.

The grand jury is investigating former President Donald Trump and others for possible crimes related to efforts to get Georgia election officials to effectively reverse President Joe Biden’s victory in the state’s 2020 race.

Meadows was on the phone during a January 2021 call when Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes for Trump to win the state.

A spokesman for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office in Georgia, which oversees evidence presented to the grand jury, said a prosecutor from that office will address Meadow’s efforts during a hearing Wednesday in Pickens County Court in South Carolina.

Meadows, a former Republican congressman, lives in South Carolina. Georgia authorities had to petition the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas to compel him to go to Atlanta to comply with the subpoena.

In a filing Monday in the court’s Thirteenth Judicial District, Meadows’ attorney James Bannister denied that petition for a number of reasons.

Bannister said the subpoena was moot because it required Meadows to appear before the grand jury on September 27.

However, according to an affidavit filed Tuesday, a Fulton County prosecutor said a “scheduling conflict” delayed the date of Meadows’ testimony. Prosecutors suggested postponing the performance to November 9, 15, or 30.

Bannister also wrote that South Carolina law regarding ensuring the presence of witnesses for another state in a criminal proceeding “does not apply to a subpoena” such as was issued to Meadows under a Georgia civil statute.

The grand jury in this case does not have the authority to criminally indict individuals, but may recommend indictments.

Bannister also wrote that Meadows was not a “essential witness” under South Carolina law because he asserted executive privilege in a pending case in federal court, arguing he should not be compelled to testify before the select committee of the to testify in the House of Representatives investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot by Trump supporters.

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The attorney also wrote that Meadows “reserves the right to supply any additional information necessary to enable the matter to be resolved fairly in court.”

Bannister did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman for Fulton County Attorney Fani Willis declined to comment.

Trump ally Graham last week lost a bid in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to temporarily block his own subpoena before the grand jury that ordered him to testify on Nov. 17.

On Friday, Graham asked Thomas to delay enforcement of the subpoena pending the outcome of his appeal over its legality.

Thomas, who is in charge of 11th Circuit emergency requests, granted the request Monday. The stay of subpoena order is not a final determination of its legality.

Graham has argued that he should not be compelled to testify before the grand jury, as doing so would violate the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause, which protects members of Congress from legal risk arising from their comments on legislative matters.

A federal district court judge dismissed that argument. The judge also ordered prosecutors not to question Willis Graham about parts of a call he made to Raffensperger after Election Day 2020 that could qualify as legislative activity.

The Court of Appeals upheld the judge’s ruling, noting that “there is substantial dispute as to whether [Graham’s] Telephone conversations with Georgian election officials were legislative investigations in the first place.”