We knew that Governor Brian Kemp was set to testify before a Fulton County special grand jury on Tuesday but some other big names have popped up.
Kemp testified as scheduled and it lasted about three hours. The grand jury testimony is secret but the investigation is tasked with finding out whether or not Trump and his allies criminally interfered in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. Kemp is the highest-ranking state official to testify before the 23-person grand jury. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis convened the special grand jury last May for the criminal investigation.
Hours after Kemp testified, a Florida judge rejected an attempt by former national security adviser Michael Flynn to kill his grand jury summons. Flynn is expected to appeal the ruling.
Sarasota County Circuit Judge Charles Roberts ruled Flynn is a “necessary and material” witness to the Fulton probe and that he should report to the county courthouse on Nov. 22, though Flynn’s lawyer said he will ask an appellate court to stay the order to allow his client to appeal.
Some other Trump World names are popping up on the witness list, too. I didn’t realize that Newt Gingrich was appealing a Virginia judge’s rulling that he must testify in Georgia. I have written about Senator Lindsey Graham’s legal battle over testifying that he took all the way to the Supreme Court. He lost and will have to testify. Former White House counsel Eric Herschmann will testiy in the coming days and CNN reported Wednesday that former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson was scheduled to appear Wednesday. The appearance by Hutchinson surprised me.
Hutchinson’s testimony is being reported as a “striking elevation” of the investigation. Hutchinson testified before the House January 6 committee and by doing so, put herself in the national spotlight. She portrayed Trump in a bad light by indicating that Trump knew he lost the 2020 election but was giving public statements that he won and promoting the stolen election story.
Atlanta criminal defense attorney Ed Garland, who is following the investigation, said Hutchinson’s testimony will help Fulton prosecutors establish criminal intent and lead to an indictment of Trump, who on Tuesday announced his candidacy for president.
“The evidence from Hutchinson is foundational in that it establishes knowledge on the part of Trump from which a jury will see he deliberately and knowingly engaged in criminal acts,” Garland said.
In testimony before the Select Committee, Hutchinson recounted conversations she had with her boss, then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, after Trump, Meadows and others called Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021. During the call, Trump insisted he won Georgia by “hundreds of thousands of votes,” and he asked Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes, which was one more than was needed to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory here.
“I said, ‘Mark, you can’t possibly think we’re going to pull this off,’” Cassidy told the Select Committee. “And he looks at me and just started shaking his head. He was like, ‘No, Cass, you know, he knows it’s over. He knows he lost, but we’re going to keep trying.’”
Hutchinson also told the January 6 committee about an encounter with Trump at the White House while walking with Meadows. Trump, she said, was “raging” about the Supreme Court’s decision to decline to hear an appeal of a lawsuit contesting the election.
“The president was just raging about the decision and how it’s wrong,” Hutchinson testified. Then Trump said “something to the effect of, I don’t want people to know we lost, Mark. This is embarrassing. Figure it out. We need to figure it out. I don’t want people to know that we lost.”
Hutchinson also said that, in mid-December, she asked Meadows if Trump really thought that he lost. “And he said, you know, a lot of times he’ll tell me that he lost, but he wants to keep fighting it,” Hutchinson testified.
We have no way of knowing if these are true stories. It’s a lot of she said, he said kind of exchanges. She was under oath, though, when she testified. It is reported Hutchinson is cooperating with prosecutors and offering her insights into what she saw in the West Wing.
So, here we are two years later, and the 2020 presidential election is still under criminal investigation in Georgia, perhaps escalating, while Trump declared himself as a candidate for the 2024 presidential election. It seems like it will never end.
Meadows has been ordered to appear before the grand jury but he is likely to appeal that ruling.