By KATE BRUMBACK Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — The prosecutor who's investigating whether Donald Trump and his allies illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in Georgia is seeking to compel testimony from more allies of the former president, including former chief of staff Mark Meadows and lawyer Sidney Powell.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis filed petitions Thursday seeking to have Meadows and Powell, as well as Meadows contact James "Phil" Waldron and former Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn, testify before a special grand jury in Atlanta next month.
Seeking testimony from Meadows, who was Trump's final White House chief of staff, signifies that the investigation is getting even closer to the former president. Willis has said she's considering calling Trump himself to testify before the special grand jury.
Because they don't live in Georgia, Willis has to use a process that involves getting judges in the states where they live to order them to appear. The petitions she filed Thursday are essentially precursors to subpoenas.
George Terwilliger, a lawyer for Meadows, declined to comment Thursday. Epshteyn didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Powell and Waldron could not immediately be reached.
In the petition seeking Meadows' testimony, Willis wrote that Meadows attended a Dec. 21, 2020, meeting at the White House with Trump and others "to discuss allegations of voter fraud and certification of electoral college votes from Georgia and other states." The next day, Willis wrote, Meadows made a "surprise visit" to Cobb County, just outside Atlanta, where an audit of signatures on absentee ballot envelopes was being conducted. He asked to observe the audit but wasn't allowed to because it wasn't open to the public, the petition says.
Between Jan. 30, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2021, Meadows sent emails to Justice Department officials making allegations of voter fraud in Georgia and elsewhere and requesting investigations, Willis wrote. He was also on a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, during which Trump suggested the state's top elections official could "find" enough votes to overturn his narrow election loss in the state.
In the petition seeking Powell's testimony, Willis wrote that Powell is "known to be affiliated with both former President Donald Trump and the Trump Campaign." The petition says attorney Lin Wood said in a television interview that Powell was part of a group who met at his home in South Carolina "for the purpose of exploring options to influence the results of the November 2020 elections in Georgia and elsewhere." Wood, who's licensed in Georgia, said Powell asked him to help find Georgia residents who to serve as plaintiffs in lawsuits contesting the state's election results, Willis wrote.
In June of this year, the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol released a deposition of Powell in which she said that in the weeks following the 2020 election, Trump asked her to be "special counsel to address the election issues and to collect evidence," saying he was frustrated with law enforcement agencies, Willis wrote.
Last week, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed that it is helping the Georgia secretary of state's office look into an alleged breach of elections data in Coffee County in south Georgia, Willis wrote. She noted that publicly reported emails indicate that Powell coordinated with a data solutions company to get elections data from Coffee County in early January 2021 and was also involved in similar efforts in Michigan and Nevada.