Breaking: Fulton grand jury seeks testimony from Meadows, Trump campaign lawyers

Coffee County data breach now of interest to grand jury, documents show

A Fulton County special grand jury investigating interference in Georgia’s 2020 elections is seeking the testimony of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell and others next month.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis filed petitions seeking their testimony in Fulton Superior Court on Thursday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has confirmed. Politico first reported the development.

Former Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn and James “Phil” Waldron, a Meadows contact and cyber researcher, have also been summoned.

The so-called certificates of material witness, which essentially function as subpoenas once approved by a judge in a witness’ home state, represent another escalation in the criminal probe. Jurors, overseen by the DA’s office, are examining whether former President Donald Trump or his allies broke any Georgia laws as they sought to overturn Joe Biden’s narrow win here in 2020.

The grand jury recently interviewed Trump’s former personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and is fighting for the testimony of another key ally, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Willis hasn’t ruled out subpoenaing Trump himself or others who worked closely with him in the White House.

Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman, was involved in several episodes in Georgia in the weeks following the election that are of interest to prosecutors.

He helped facilitate the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call that Trump placed to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, during which he urged Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” 11,780 votes.

Meadows periodically jumped in on the conversation to ask if there were ways the Secretary of State’s office could share voter data with the Trump campaign, which at the time was leveling several challenges in the courts system that spoke to election fraud allegations. Meadows said doing so could help “find a path forward that’s less litigious.”

Meadows also made a surprise visit to the Cobb County Civic Center in December 2020 to observe an audit of absentee ballots envelop signatures being carried out by the Secretary of State’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The audit had been ordered by Raffensperger to restore public confidence in the state’s elections infrastructure.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows meets with Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs on Tuesday at the Cobb County Civic Center, where investigators were conducting an audit of voter signatures on absentee ballot envelopes. MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM

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He was blocked from entering the room in which the audit was occurring but was overheard by an AJC reporter saying, “I’m not making any allegations as much as I am trying to get to the truth.”

It was in Cobb where Meadows met Frances Watson, then the chief investigator for Georgia’s Secretary of State’s office, who was helping conduct the audit. He got her phone number, paving the way for the six-minute call that Trump placed to Watson not long after. That phone call, in which Trump told Watson she would find “dishonesty” if she scrutinized absentee ballots in Fulton County and that she would be praised when “the right answer” came out, is also of interest to the special grand jury.

Watson was subpoenaed by the body in June.

The House Jan. 6 committee has also uncovered evidence that Meadows had a major role in helping coordinate the appointment of “alternate” Trump electors in a half-dozen swing states, including Georgia. The fake electors, who cast sham ballots in a Dec. 14, 2020 ceremony in the Georgia statehouse, are a central interest of the special grand jury.

The petition for Meadows also noted that he attended a Dec. 21, 2020, White House meeting with Trump, members of Congress and others to discuss allegations of voter fraud and the certification of electoral college votes from Georgia and other states. It said he also sent emails to top Justice Department officials in late 2020 “making various allegations of voter fraud in Georgia and elsewhere and requesting that the Department of Justice conduct investigations into these allegations.”

Powell’s petition cites the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s new investigation into the alleged breach of election data in Coffee County, Georgia. Emails indicate that Powell allegedly coordinated with SullivanStrickler, an Atlanta data company, to obtain elections data in Jan. 2021.

The summons also cites comments made from Atlanta attorney L. Lin Wood during a media interview. Wood said he met with Powell and others at a South Carolina plantation to explore options to influence results of the 2020 elections in Georgia and elsewhere. Wood said Powell had asked him to assist in identifying Georgia residents who would be willing to serve as plaintiffs in suits contesting Georgia’s election results.

Waldron testified before a Georgia Senate committee hearing in Dec. 2020 about purported vulnerabilities of Dominion Voting Systems voting machines. A handful of subpoenaed witnesses, including Giuliani and attorneys Jenna Ellis and John Eastman, also participated in the hearing, which is another interest of the grand jury.

Epshteyn was an aide to the Trump campaign in late 2020.His summons said Epshteyn confirmed in a media interview that he had been involved in the plan to appoint alternate GOP electors that was overseen by Giuliani.

The special grand jury is asking Meadows, Powell, Epshteyn and Waldron to provide testimony next month.

Staff writer Bill Rankin contributed to this article.