Special grand jury seeks evidence of Coffee Co. election breach

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Fulton panel also requesting testimony of former Trump outreach official

The Fulton County special grand jury is growing increasingly interested in an alleged election data breach in rural Coffee County as part of its multi-faceted criminal investigation into Georgia’s 2020 election.

The 23-person grand jury earlier this week approved a subpoena for documents from the Atlanta IT services firm SullivanStrickler. The subpoena was obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday.

The subpoena seeks all documents between the company andSidney Powell or Lin Wood — two conservative attorneys aligned with the Trump campaign.

The subpoena says responsive documents should include letters, contracts, emails, audio and video recordings, billing records and data received from third parties “concerning any and all agreements to obtain, preserve, analyze, or otherwise transmit election data obtained in Coffee County, Georgia, Antrim County, Michigan.”

It directs the company to produce the evidence by Sept. 15.

On Jan. 7, 2021, a day after supporters of then-President Donald Trump ransacked the U.S. Capitol to halt the certification of the 2020 election, SullivanStrickler sent four of its employees to Coffee County, some 200 miles southeast of Atlanta at the behest of Powell, then a lawyer for the Trump campaign.

Records from an unrelated election security lawsuit show those employees copied memory cards that stored votes, ballot scanners and an election server, and allegedly shared the records with Powell, conspiracy theorists and other Trump allies.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation opened a criminal investigation last month to examine the breach allegations, and the Secretary of State’s office said it’s been investigating since March.

Amanda Clark Palmer, an attorney for SullivanStrickler, said earlier this week that the firm “is not and has never been part of a ‘Pro-Trump team’ or any ‘team’ whose goal is to undermine our democracy through lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.”

“The firm’s work is politically agnostic,” Palmer said. “SullivanStrickler was retained by and took direction from licensed, practicing attorneys to preserve and forensically copy the Dominion Voting Machines used in the 2020 election. The firm had no reason to believe that, as officers of the court, these attorneys would ask or direct SullivanStrickler to do anything either improper or illegal.”

She said the firm stopped working on the project after Jan. 7.

SullivanStrickler allegedly conducted similar work in Michigan. It currently has a $1.3 million annual contract with the City of Atlanta to store and produce its legacy data.

The grand jury’s interest in Coffee County first emerged last week, after it petitioned a Texas court for the testimony of Powell, noting in its summons that she “coordinated” with SullivanStrickler to obtain Coffee County elections data.

Not long after, prosecutors informed Wood, a libel lawyer, that they also planned to seek his testimony. Wood held meetings with Powell and other prominent Trump supporters at his South Carolina plantation after the 2020 elections, during which participants allegedly explored options for influencing vote tallies in Georgia and other states, according to Powell’s summons.

The Fulton DA’s office declined to comment.

Former Trump outreach official summoned

Also on Friday, the special grand jury requested the testimony of Harrison Floyd, a former suburban Atlanta congressional candidate who served as a director of Black Voices for Trump.

Floyd allegedly put Trevian Kutti, a former publicist for Kanye West, in touch with Fulton elections worker Ruby Freeman. Freeman and her daughter received death threats after being singled out by Trump and his allies for committing election fraud while tallying ballots at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena. (Election investigations and publicly available videos showed no improprieties.)

Floyd previously told Reuters that he was asked by an unidentified chaplain with federal law enforcement connections to arrange a meeting between Kutti and Freeman to discuss an “immunity deal.”

Kutti visited Freeman’s Cobb County home on Jan. 4, 2021, claiming to be a crisis manager sent by a “high-profile individual” and told Freeman to confess to committing election fraud or risk being arrested.

Freeman declined to speak with Kutti, but the two spoke later that night at the Cobb County Police Department. During that conversation, which was partially captured by police body camera footage, Kutti stated that she wanted to connect Freeman to Floyd, whom she described as a “high level” crisis manager “with authoritative powers to get you protection that you need.”

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Kutti then called Floyd and they spoke to Freeman at length, according to his petition. They allegedly pressured Freeman to “reveal information under the threat of incarceration if she did not comply.”

Jurors said Floyd “possesses unique knowledge concerning the substance of Kutti’s conversations with Ruby Freeman, the circumstances surrounding his decision to connect Kutti with Freeman, the logistics of setting up the meeting between Kutti and Freeman, and any communications between himself, others involved in the planning and execution of the meeting, the Trump Campaign, and other known and unknown individuals involved in the multi-state, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”

Staff writer Mark Niesse contributed to this article.