Former Trump administration chief of staff Mark Meadows was ordered by a South Carolina judge on Wednesday to appear before a grand jury investigating attempts to coerce election officials in Georgia to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state.
The case was presided over by Judge Edward Miller, a county judge in South Carolina, because prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, sought to use a state law in South Carolina that would require Meadows, who lives there, to comply with their order to testify.
Miller deemed Meadows a “material and necessary” witness for the investigation, adding that “the state of Georgia is assuring not to cause undue hardship to him” in compelling him to appear as a witness.
On Tuesday, Meadows’s lawyer called for the subpoena to be blocked. Meadows’s legal team has argued that he doesn’t have to comply with the order because the investigation, led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, isn’t yet a criminal inquiry.
In court, Meadows’s lawyer has said that the South Carolina law that Georgia prosecutors were attempting to use didn’t apply to him, and continued to push executive privilege claims that Meadows and other allies to former President Donald Trump have promoted in the past. They also argued that the investigation was based on partisanship rather than the law.
Miller expressed skepticism over those arguments. “This is not a political hearing,” he said to Meadows’s lawyer in response to the claim that the subpoena was motivated by politics.
Meadows’s lawyer has indicated that he plans to appeal the ruling, a process which could take months.
Willis opened the investigation in Fulton County after a recording of Trump with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was made public. In the audio recording, Trump tries to coerce Raffensperger to “find” him enough votes to overturn President Joe Biden’s Georgia win in the 2020 presidential election, threatening the state official with potential legal repercussions if he doesn’t act. It is illegal to coerce, threaten, command or otherwise compel an official to engage in election fraud under Georgia state law.
Meadows was listening in on the call as it was happening, meaning that he likely has a unique understanding of Trump’s mindset before, during and after the call. As the call was taking place, Meadows was also texting an aide to Raffensperger, who told him that the call was not good for either side.
“Need to end this call. I don’t think this will be productive much longer,” the aide said in her text to Meadows.