By Dianne Gallagher, CNN
The North Carolina Department of Justice announced Friday that there was “not sufficient evidence” to bring charges against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and his wife, Debra Meadows, over allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
“My office has concluded that there is not sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt against either Mr. or Mrs. Meadows, so my office will not prosecute this case,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, said in a statement. “If further information relevant to the allegations of voter fraud comes to light in any subsequent investigation or prosecution by authorities in other jurisdictions, we reserve the right to reopen this matter.”
The investigation began after The New Yorker magazine reported that Mark Meadows, a former Republican congressman from North Carolina, registered to vote weeks before the 2020 election at a mobile home in Macon County where he had allegedly never lived or even visited. The article quoted the unnamed former owner of the McConnell Road property in Scaly Mountain as saying that Meadows had never visited or “spent a night in there” and that his wife “reserved the house for two months at some point within the past few years — she couldn’t remember exactly when — but only spent one or two nights there.”
North Carolina voter records show Meadows registered at the Scaly Mountain address on September 22, 2020. He voted absentee by mail in the 2020 general election. He was removed from the North Carolina voter rolls in April after it was determined Meadows was simultaneously registered to vote in three states.
A memo from prosecutors explaining the decision not to charge the couple states that Mark Meadows was “almost certainly never physically present at the Scaly Mountain address,” noting that US Secret Service records showed that he had no official travel and did not request any unaccompanied travel leave to North Carolina from September 2020 to November 2020. However, state law does not “require the physical presence of a federal government servant in North Carolina in order for them to maintain residence and vote in North Carolina,” the memo states.
The memo also notes that both Mark and Debra Meadows declined to be interviewed by the State Bureau of Investigation, which conducted the inquiry into the fraud allegations.
According to Friday’s release from Stein’s office, the “key facts” behind the decision not to charge the Meadowses were: (1) He was engaged in public service in Washington, DC, and therefore qualified for a residency exception under state law; (2) the Meadowses signed a yearlong lease for the Scaly Mountain residence that was provided by their landlord; and (3) cell phone records showed Debra Meadows was in and around Scaly Mountain in October 2020.
State prosecutors said that the statute of limitations for misdemeanor charges related to false information on an election form had expired by the time the office received the report. The prosecutors wrote that they determined there would be a “low likelihood of success” to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Meadowses committed a felony by knowingly swearing to false information on their voter forms.
Mark Meadows left Congress in March 2020 to serve as White House chief of staff under President Donald Trump, holding the position until Trump left office the following January. Recent releases of transcripts by the House January 6 committee have included several revelations related to Meadows by his onetime aide Cassidy Hutchinson. They include revelations that he regularly burned documents during the presidential transition period and occasionally told staffers to keep some Oval Office meetings “close hold” and potentially omitted from official records.
Stein said in his statement Friday that Mark Meadows “has made numerous unfounded, damaging allegations about voter fraud both before and after the 2020 election,” while also noting that “the bipartisan January 6th congressional committee named Mr. Meadows as a likely co-conspirator over his central role in the January 6th insurrection.”
“None of the matters involving January 6th, however, are relevant to the specific allegations of voter fraud concerning Mr. and Mrs. Meadows that were referred to my office for review,” Stein added.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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