Georgia probe stymied by Trump lawyer
September 1, 2022
Also in today’s edition of Swing State Georgia:
Atlanta hospital closure stirs Georgia campaign.
Abrams & Warnock join forces.
Herschel ad runs afoul of copyright laws.
The Georgia investigation into Donald Trump ran into a Fifth Amendment wall on Wednesday.
John Eastman, the former law school professor who morphed into a top legal advisor for Donald Trump, refused to answer questions from a grand jury in Atlanta investigating Trump's effort to overturn his election loss.
"We advised our client John Eastman to assert attorney client privilege and the constitutional right to remain silent where appropriate," his lawyers said in a statement.
Our colleague Tamar Hallerman has more:
Eastman was involved in at least two matters that are of interest to the grand jury.
He was allegedly a key architect of the plan to press Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count the official Democratic electors in Georgia and a half-dozen other contested swing states on Jan. 6, 2021. Instead, Pence would recognize a set of Trump electors.
Eastman also testified at a Dec. 2020 statehouse hearing of interest to the grand jury. During his remarks, Eastman argued that there was “more than enough” evidence of fraud and improper conduct to warrant Georgia lawmakers picking an alternative slate of presidential electors.
There's much more in Tamar's story, including an extensive graphic detailing the witnesses brought in by the grand jury. It’s a reminder of how much work has gone into this overall investigation of the 2020 election and Trump.
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BEE ATTACK. The recent news about election data from a county in South Georgia being downloaded by Trump supporters after the 2020 elections is now becoming a part of the campaign for Secretary of State in Georgia.
Democrat Bee Nguyen is criticizing the incumbent - Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — for his handling of that breach, our colleague Mark Niesse reports.
“I am deeply concerned that bad actors were given access to confidential election data and what that means for Georgia’s election security,” Nguyen said Wednesday. “
The day after riots over the presidential election in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, a group of Trump supporters copied sensitive election records in Coffee County, including an election server, ballot scanners and memory cards, according to documents disclosed by subpoenas in a lawsuit over election security. The documents indicate they were working under the direction of Trump attorney Sidney Powell and were granted access by county officials.
The secretary of state’s office and the GBI have both said they’re investigating the incident. A grand jury investigating interference in the 2020 election is seeking Powell’s testimony.
And Raffensperger’s campaign hit back at Nguyen’s attack.
“Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has shown he will stand up to anybody who tries to interfere in Georgia elections,” said campaign manager Jordan Fuchs. “Ask the people in Coffee County who were just visited by the GBI if they don’t think this is being treated with appropriate seriousness.”
GEORGIA VOTERS. Republicans were surprised when they lost Georgia in the 2020 election.
A review of Georgia voter data shows just how much the state voter rolls have changed in the past four years.
Our colleague Mark Niesse has some great insights today:
Over 1.6 million new voters over the past four years, representing more than one-fifth of all registered voters. A growing and more diverse electorate. A swing state with close and high-stakes elections.
Many of the new voters come from groups that typically support Democrats, including people of color, those under age 35 and people from other states who moved to urban and suburban areas in Georgia, according to an analysis of the state’s registration list by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Most of Georgia’s 1.6 million new voters registered in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Roughly 1.2 million people registered from 2018 to 2020, and 400,000 have enrolled since then.
Read Mark’s story at this link. The numbers show why we call this ‘Swing State Georgia.’
TRUMP DOCUMENTS. In postings on his Truth Social website last night, former President Donald Trump backed off his assertion that the FBI recently planted classified documents at his Florida home.
Trump also acknowledged that the FBI had found classified materials in ‘cartons’ during their search.
That undercuts recent statements by one Georgia Republican in Congress.
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice had gone on conservative TV to echo Trump’s original claim that documents were ‘planted’ when the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago club in August - but now Hice and other Georgia Republicans are saying very little about the investigation as more evidence comes out.
A photograph filed with a federal judge late Tuesday by the Justice Department of the classified documents seized in Trump's office seemed to galvanize Democrats.
"Trump was and is a national security risk," said Georgia U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams.
ABRAMS-WARNOCK. The top two Democrats on the ballot in Georgia this November joined forces for a campaign rally on Wednesday, trying to snuff out talk of a lack of unity between Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock.
Our Insider Greg Bluestein was on hand:
The two candidates seemed determined to silence concerns about their unity.
Shortly after Warnock disembarked from his campaign bus, he made a beeline to Abrams. The two embraced as a crowd of supporters showered them with applause as a bank of cameras filmed their every step.
Though it’s not the first event they’ve attended together this campaign cycle, it is the most significant one. The rally was held in Cobb County, once solidly Republican territory that flipped in 2016 and remains key to Democrats’ fortunes in 2022.
Warnock and Abrams are both in close races. Polls have shown Abrams a few points behind Gov. Brian Kemp, while Warnock has had a slight lead over Republican Herschel Walker in the race for U.S. Senate.
HOSPITAL FIGHT. The abrupt news that a major hospital in Atlanta - the Atlanta Medical Center - would be closing had a swift and sudden impact on Georgia’s campaign trail, bringing new attention to urgent calls by Democrats for the state to expand Medicaid.
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