Meadows faces no voter fraud charges in North Carolina

RALEIGH, NCMark MeadowsPresident Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff, will not be charged with voter fraud in connection with his registration in 2020 and voting by mail in North Carolina, the attorney general announced Friday.

Meadows, a former West North Carolina congressman who worked for Trump in his final months in the Oval Office, has been an outspoken supporter of the ex-president’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. Meadows caught the attention of prosecutors when he revealed details about it registered to vote at the same time in North Carolina and two other states.

Based largely on the Results of an electoral fraud investigation Attorney General Josh Stein, who was contracted by the state Bureau of Investigation, told The Associated Press that there was insufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution of Meadows or his wife, Debra.

“Our conclusion was that they had arguments that would help them if a case were brought in a way that we don’t think we could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were involved in deliberate voter fraud,” Stein, a Democrat, said in one Interview .

Public records showed that Meadows listed a mobile home in Scaly Mountain, North Carolina that he did not own as his physical address when he registered to vote on September 19, 2020 while still serving as chief of staff. Meadows mailed an absentee ballot in North Carolina for the November general election, when Trump won the battleground state by just over 1 percentage point.

The New Yorker, which first reported on Meadows’ 2020 registration earlier this year, said the previous owner told the magazine that Meadows’ wife rented the property for a short time and only stayed a night or two.

Stein said senior prosecutors in his department recommended that the charges not be pursued. In a note to Stein, Those attorneys said evidence showed Meadows and his wife signed a one-year lease on the Scaly Mountain residence, which was provided by their landlord. Cell phone records showed that Debra Meadows was in and around Scaly Mountain in October 2020, the memo said, and her husband qualified for a state law residency exemption because he was a public servant in Washington.

Election officials interpret state law to allow a person to register as a “permanent resident” at least 30 days before an election. Filling out a registration form fraudulently or incorrectly is a petty crime.

Although Mark Meadows “almost certainly never physically attended the Scaly Mountain address,” the memo states, “the factors in favor of Macon County residency outweigh the factors against residency.”

An aide to Meadows did not immediately respond to a text Friday asking for comment on Stein’s decision. Mark and Debra Meadows declined to be interviewed by SBI, the memo said.

Stein’s special prosecutor’s office at the Justice Department took over the investigation at the request of the district attorney in Macon County, where Scaly Mountain is located, about 90 miles southwest of Asheville. Prosecutors withdrew because Meadows had contributed to their campaign and appeared in political ads supporting them. The Special Prosecutor’s Office asked the SBI to investigate, and the agency completed its initial work last month.

By April the Macon County Board of Elections Removed Meadows from local electoral rolls.

Public records also show that Meadows was registered to vote in Virginia in 2021 and in South Carolina this March after he and his wife bought a home there.

Meadows began raising public suspicions of widespread voter fraud ahead of the 2020 general election when polls showed Trump trailing President Joe Biden. He repeated these baseless claims throughout the election cycle and post-race when Trump insisted the election was riddled with fraud.

Election officials from both parties, as well as judges and Trump’s own attorney general, concluded that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Meadows was featured prominently on the US House of Representatives committee investigating the events leading up to the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots. While urging federal prosecutors to “hold accountable” those responsible for the conspiracy “to put our democracy at risk,” Stein said in a press release that those matters were not relevant to the fraud allegations his office has been investigating .

Stein told the AP that while his investigation is closed, the matter may reopen if evidence from investigations in other jurisdictions is uncovered.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Meadows faces no voter fraud charges in North Carolina

Sarah Y. Kim

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