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A grand jury in Georgia is expected to hear from ex-Trump official Meadows

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Mark Meadows, the former top White House chief of staff, is expected to appear before a grand jury in Georgia today. They're seeking testimony from the former president's top allies as part of a Fulton County investigation into attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Georgia Public Broadcasting's Stephen Fowler is now for an update. Stephen, remind us of what this investigation's all about.

STEPHEN FOWLER, BYLINE: So there was this multipronged pressure campaign seeking to overturn Trump's narrow defeat in Georgia, which included Trump supporters, Republican state lawmakers, a bevy of lawyers and even the former president himself. We had everything from a slate of Republicans falsely claiming to be Georgia's electors to the infamous call where Trump pressured Georgia's GOP secretary of state to, quote, "find votes" and more. It failed. But the Fulton County DA, Fani Willis, is exploring a number of state laws that could have been broken, from giving false statements to soliciting election fraud to potentially making the case that Trump and his allies oversaw a vast, coordinated conspiracy to toss out votes.

MARTINEZ: And how does Mark Meadows fit into all this?

FOWLER: Well, according to court filings seeking Meadows' testimony, there's a few things. First, he was chief of staff for Trump and was present on that January 2021 call with Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's top election official. He also came down for an unannounced visit to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation-led audit of absentee ballot envelopes. He tried to get in the audit, but was turned away. And by the way, A, that audit found no evidence of fraud. Meadows is also a key thread connecting other people and events in the aftermath of the 2020 election like some Republican members of Congress objecting to certifying Electoral College votes and efforts to get the Justice Department to investigate Georgia. Basically, he's an important piece of the puzzle that can tie together a lot of disparate things relating to the failed effort to overturn Georgia's election.

MARTINEZ: Now, Mark Meadows hasn't said a word publicly, at least, and today's testimony is behind closed doors. Any idea of what we could learn?

FOWLER: Nothing specific to Meadows' testimony, but what we do know is the subpoena for him and others recently filed brings this investigation squarely into Trump's inner circle. And the former president hasn't been called to testify yet, but he's got a high-powered lawyer in Georgia who's been paid nearly $200,000 so far from Trump's political action committee for whatever may come.

MARTINEZ: So, Stephen, when should we expect to have any sort of resolution or even potential charges from this special grand jury probe?

FOWLER: Well, not before the election, A. The DA says she's starting a quiet period October 7, where there will be no public grand jury activity as early voting gets underway. There was a similar pause around Georgia's primary in May. She doesn't want to be accused of playing politics, even though people have tried. Willis told The Washington Post she hopes interviews will be done by the end of the year. Then comes a report recommending what, if any, charges could be filed. Now, that's a decision the DA would have to make separately, likely in the new year. And we do know some people are on the hot seat. The 16 fake electors, including Georgia's Republican candidate for lieutenant governor and Rudy Giuliani, Trump's onetime personal attorney, have been told they could face criminal charges in this probe.

MARTINEZ: All right. That's Stephen Fowler with Georgia Public Broadcasting. Stephen, as always, thanks.

FOWLER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Stephen Fowler is the Producer/Back-Up Host for All Things Considered and a creative storyteller hailing from McDonough, Georgia. He graduated from Emory University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. The program combined the best parts of journalism, marketing, digital media and music into a thesis on the rise of the internet rapper via the intersectionality of social media and hip-hop. He served as the first-ever Executive Digital Editor of The Emory Wheel, where he helped lead the paper into a modern digital era.
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