‘Breakdown’ Episode 12: What happened in Coffee County

Here’s how the Coffee County elections data breach happened and why state elections officials should be alarmed.

The latest episode of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Breakdown” podcast takes a close look at the data breach at the Coffee County elections office which occurred one day after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Podcast hosts Bill Rankin and Tamar Hallerman interview Mark Niesse, the AJC’s elections and voting rights expert, in “Breakdown Bonus,” the twelfth episode of the podcast’s ninth season, “The Trump Grand Jury.”

Niesse has covered the wild developments surrounding the Coffee County data breach on Jan. 7, 2021, since news of it first surfaced. He explains how it happened, why news of it first came to light this past May and why state elections officials should be alarmed.

The Fulton County special purpose grand jury, which is investigating former President Donald Trump and his allies, has issued subpoenas to Sidney Powell and the data firm SullivanStrickler. Powell, who was once a lawyer for the Trump campaign, oversaw the breach and hired the data firm.

Niesse, who was at the Cobb County audit of absentee ballots, also recalls the unusual and sudden visit by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Meadows was told he could not go inside to see what was going on. And Niesse also discusses the state legislative hearings he covered in December 2020 when Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani testified and presented now-debunked evidence of voter fraud.

ExploreThe latest on the Trump grand jury probe

Separately, the 12th episode of “The Trump Grand Jury” also explains why the Fulton special grand jury may be interested in hearing from former Georgia congressman and House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

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ExploreListen to previous seasons of the 'Breakdown' podcast