On Wednesday, in the small town of Pickens, South Carolina, an “at-large” South Carolina Circuit Court judge named Edward Miller ruled that former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows must appear and testify before a special grand jury in Fulton County Georgia. The grand jury ostensibly is investigating attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.
The court appearance lasted about 45-minutes. Judge Miller denied Meadows’ motion to quash the petition that seeks his testimony in front of the grand jury.
Judge Miller said, before ruling on the petition:
“Well, you have eloquently enumerated your arguments, which I think perhaps an appellate court can review, but based on what’s before me today I’m going to find that the witness is material and necessary to the investigation,”
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During the hearing, Meadows’ attorney, James Bannister, questioned Fulton County Deputy District Attorney Will Wooten. Wooten testified about the scope and purpose of the requested testimony. Bannister touched on the apparent political nature of the grand jury and the reason it was empaneled. Judge Miller grew impatient with the line of questioning. Meadows’ counsel pointed to pending litigation regarding a subpoena for his testimony before the J6 Committee for which Meadows has asserted Executive Privilege.
Bannister argued that:
“Determining whether or not Mr. Meadows is material… should be guided by what comes out of that federal decision in federal court. In other words, if executive privilege covers all these issues, then I would be able to stand in front of you and say ‘judge, nothing they’ve named isn’t going to be covered by executive privilege, and therefore he can’t be a material witness because he can’t offer any testimony.'”
Another fact witness successfully fought the petition. Jacki Pick, a Texas resident successfully fought her order to appear. The Texas Court of Appeals found Fulton County’s grand jury was a “civil” proceeding, rather than a criminal one, thus Pick was not compelled to appear. Meadows’ attorney also argued the same, and that Meadows’ petition was moot, inasmuch as the original appearance date had come and gone.
Judge Miller rejected all of Bannister’s arguments. Judge Miller seems to have “punted” on the issue, leaving it to the South Carolina Court of Appeals to sort out.
Meadows’ attorney spoke to reporters following the hearing, and said Meadows would appeal the order, stating:
“We are looking into legal options based on the judge’s ruling from the bench. It would be inappropriate to comment further on these issues until the Judge has issued a final written order”
The Fulton County grand jury proceeding has long been viewed as a political stunt. The phone call initiated by Trump to Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, after the 2020 election was recorded, and the facts generally known, but Fulton County DA Fani Willis has pushed forward. Willis is a Democrat. She was disqualified from prosecuting any “fake elector” case against Trump because she was found to be a political actor. Willis held Democrat fundraisers during the 2020 election season.
Other than Meadows’ appeal there is no chance of anything substantive happening before the midterms. Willis will pick up after the midterms and, in my opinion, she will seek indictments from a regular grand jury, not this special grand jury that Meadows wishes to avoid. Any indictments will likely happen in December.
Whatever develops, this is political high stakes.
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