Mark Meadows just got pulled into former President Donald Trump’s legal drama in Georgia.
Meadows, Trump’s final White House chief of staff, is being summoned to testify next month in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ criminal investigation into Trump allies’ attempts to flip the 2020 election.
Willis also wants to hear from pro-Trump “Kraken” lawyer Sidney Powell, Meadows contact Army Col. James “Phil” Waldron, and former Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn, according to court filings released Thursday afternoon.
The attempt to compel testimony from some of Trump’s closest advisers is further evidence that Willis’ probe is looking in every corner of Trumpworld in a strikingly thorough investigation, legal experts said. Willis’ filing describes Meadows as a “material witness” to her investigation.
“The subpoena [for Meadows] tells us that the DA may be closing in on Trump and other big fish in this scandal,” Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, told VICE News.
Meadows participated in the infamous phone call that Trump held with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January 2021 in which Trump told Raffensperger he wanted to “find” enough votes to allow him to carry Georgia. President Joe Biden won Georgia by a wafer-thin margin of 11,779 votes.
“All I want to do is this,” Trump told Raffensperger. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.”
Willis wrote in a court filing that her investigation uncovered that Meadows played a role in setting up the call. Willis said she wants to ask him about the planning and logistics of the call and other events from that period, including what she called a “surprise visit” Meadows took to a facility in Marietta, Georgia, where state officials were conducting ballot signature matches.
Meadows also took part in a White House meeting after the November election with members of Congress to discuss allegations of voter fraud in Georgia and elsewhere, Willis wrote, citing one of Meadows’ own tweets.
On Dec. 21, 2020, Meadows tweeted: “Several members of Congress just finished a meeting in the Oval Office with President @realDonaldTrump, preparing to fight back against mounting evidence of voter fraud. Stay tuned.”
“The witness possesses unique knowledge concerning relevant communications between the witness, former President Donald Trump, the Trump Campaign and other known and unknown individuals in the multi-state coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere,” Willis’ team wrote in court documents.
Willis has formally informed longtime Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and more than a dozen local Georgia political figures that they are targets of the probe, meaning they are likely to be charged with crimes. She’s also seeking to compel testimony from pro-Trump GOP Sen.Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Independent legal experts have told VICE News that Willis may be attempting to put together a sweeping racketeering case under a statute known as Georgia RICO, or the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. That move has the potential to wrap Trump together with his allies into a single grand case, if Willis can prove they used an organization, such as the Trump Campaign, to commit a series of crimes.
Georgia RICO is the junior cousin of the federal RICO statute, which was originally devised to bring down organized crime, and happens to be Willis’ signature move. She’s used Georgia RICO multiple times, including against the rapper Young Thug and teachers in Atlanta accused of cheating.
Meadows may seek to avoid testifying by invoking executive privilege, the legal principle that some White House conversations can be held private, as Trump allies have done repeatedly in other legal proceedings and investigations.
But using executive privilege to get out of this one is no guarantee for Meadows, said Jens David Ohlin, dean of Cornell Law School.
“Some of these meetings included members of Congress, which will complicate, or even eliminate, any possibility of claiming executive privilege,” Ohlin told VICE News. “Since members of another branch of government were present, it would be hard to claim that this was a confidential Executive Branch deliberation.”
The petitions filed by Willis for testimony are precursors to subpoenas, and must be confirmed by judges outside the state because the subjects don’t live in Georgia, according to the AP.
Willis’ public campaign to compel testimony from so many in Trump’s circle, including those close to Trump himself, may be a tactic to help induce witnesses to reveal what they know, said Harry Sandick, a former prosecutor for the Southern District of New York.
“This says that the DA’s office is conducting a full, public investigation,” Sandick said. “They are seeking information from everyone, and making public filings, so witnesses will know whether other people are going on. The idea is that someone may wonder, ‘Hey, is this other witness going to tell the whole story?’ and so it might incentivize people to come clean.”
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