White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters after a television interview outside the White House in Washington, the United States, October 21, 2020.
Alexander Drago | Reuters
A South Carolina judge on Wednesday ordered former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to comply with a subpoena from the Georgia grand jury seeking testimony in an investigation into possible criminal interference in the 2020 presidential election.
The order came a day after an attorney for former South Carolina Congressman Meadows said the subpoena issued by the Fulton County grand jury should be blocked for a number of reasons. Meadows’ attorney reportedly said he would appeal the decision.
The grand jury is examining efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to get Georgia election officials to effectively reverse President Joe Biden’s victory in that state.
Georgia authorities had to ask a South Carolina judge to compel Meadows to comply with the subpoena because he is not a Georgia resident.
Meadows overheard a phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in early January 2021, in which then-President Raffensperger urged him to “seek” enough votes to win the state.
The call came days before a joint session of Congress scheduled to certify the results of Biden’s Electoral College victory, which depended on his victories in the popular vote in swing states, including Georgia.
A spokesman for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, whose prosecutors are bringing evidence to the grand jury, declined to comment on Wednesday’s order, which was issued by South Carolina’s Court of Common Pleas.
Meadows’ attorney, James Bannister, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bannister argued in a court filing that the subpoena should be blocked because it was issued under Georgian civil law, not criminal law. He said that South Carolina law regarding ensuring the presence of witnesses for another state in a criminal proceeding would not apply to the one issued to his client.
The attorney also argued that Meadows was not a “key witness” under South Carolina law because he had asserted the right to executive privilege, arguing he should not be compelled to testify before the House committee that tried the riot in South Carolina Trump January 6, 2021 Capitol probes supporters.
The Georgia grand jury subpoenaed a number of other Trump allies and attorneys for the former president, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C.
Graham asked a federal judge to vacate his subpoena, arguing that he was exempt from testimony under the Constitution’s speech and debate clause, which protects members of Congress from legal risk arising from their comments related to legislative matters.
Graham has claimed his own call to Raffensperger after Election Day 2020 was part of a legislative investigation.
But the federal judge in Graham’s case refused to block the subpoena but said he could not be questioned about parts of the call that might be related to such a legislative investigation.
Graham last week lost an offer to postpone the subpoena at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said he hadn’t shown he was likely to win an appeal of that ruling. The Court of Appeal also said, “There is significant dispute as to whether his phone calls with Georgian election officials were legislative inquiries at all.”
On Monday, US Chief Justice Clarence Thomas temporarily blocked the subpoena for Graham pending further filings with the Supreme Court.