Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, was denied permission by a federal judge to move his Georgia criminal case to federal court on Friday, which could have implications for former President Donald Trump.
The Fulton County district attorney’s indictment on election subversion charges made it clear that Meadows was not the chief of staff of the White House and had a significant political role, as US District Judge Steve Jones determined.
According to Jones, a candidate for Barack Obama, the evidence presented indicates that Meadows was not performing his duties within the executive branch during most of the Overt Acts.
The ruling made on Friday will have a major impact on the former president and his fellow 18 defendants in the Fulton County district attorney’s racketeering case, although the judge stated that none of them would be affected by the ruling. Meadows is one of five defendant(s) who have already filed motions to move the case to federal court, and Trump is likely to follow suit.
Meadows’ argument that his case should be transferred to Georgia state court was unsuccessful, as the indictment relates to his official duties as White House chief of staff. His lawyers sought to have it dismissed entirely by appealing to federal court, which provides immunity for certain individuals who are prosecuted or sued for their actions in US government roles.
The judge’s ruling may have a significant impact on the other defendants attempting to move their cases. It is ominous that they are seeking to use the same federal immunity protections.
The judge made it clear in his ruling that he is not giving any opinion on the criminal case against Meadows, who has pleaded not guilty.
According to Jones’ writing in the decision, Meadows did not meet the “highly unlikely” standard for being removed from federal court due to his involvement in Trump campaign activities outside of his federal role as White House chief of staff.
Jones stated that the Office of the White House Chief of Staff was not colorless in its coordination of Trump campaign activities, merely working with him or herself, traveling with President Obama to his campaign events, and diverting communications to the campaign.
The judge noted that the Hatch Act, which prevents federal officials from engaging in political activities during their official duties, helped to define the White House Chief of Staff’s authority.
The prohibitions against executive branch employees, including the White House Chief of Staff, reinforce the Court’s conclusion that Meadows has not demonstrated his actions aligned with the scope of his federal executive office. The judge concluded that the removal of federal officers is irrelevant in this case.
On Friday, Meadows promptly appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in the United States.
The federal role that is often referred to as “Outside Meadows” has been upheld.
The indictment lists eight alleged acts that were part of Meadows’ conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results. Meadowing claimed that these actions were under his federal duties and therefore, the case should be transferred to federal court, but Jones disagreed.
According to Jones, the Court’s conclusion is that Meadows did not demonstrate that the gravamen or a heavy majority of intentional acts committed against him were linked to his role as White House Chief of Staff.
In January 2021, Meadows was involved in a phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, which led Trump to encourage him to secure enough support to defeat Joe Biden’s margin of victory.
According to Jones, the phone call was about private litigation brought by the President and his campaign, and it did not fall under Meadows’ authority as an executive branch officer.
According to Jones, Meadows’ actions in late 2020, such as meetings with state lawmakers that Trump hoped would undermine the election results, were not related to his government position.
The judge stated that the Court concluded that Meadows’s meetings and calls were not about the extent of his federal office, but rather related to political matters.
The federal court was the first place where Meadows sought to be removed from.
Meadows faced a significant setback in the decision as he testified about the removal process under oath during another hearing last month, which could result in him being prosecuted.
Following the filing of charges against Trump and his 18 co-defendants, the former president’s legal team indicated their intention to move his case to federal court, similar to his previous unsuccessful attempt in a New York criminal case. On Thursday, Trump’ attorneys informed the judge overseeing the state case that he may seek to transfer the case but has not yet filed the legal motions.
Trump has the option to move his case in 30 days after submitting his not-guilty plea.
Lawyers representing Meadows and Trump have been contacted by CNN for comment.
Along with Meadows, Jeffrey Clark, the former DOJ official, and three Georgia GOP officials have moved their cases to federal court. These fake electors include former Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer and former GOP Coffee County Chairwoman Cathy Latham. Shawn Still, a Georgia state senator, is seeking federal removal.
Shafer, Still, and Latham have made a different claim by asserting that they were acting as fake electors at the direction of Trump, unlike Meadows who had ties to the federal government.
Jones declared on Friday that his decision regarding Meadows would not have any bearing on the other defendants who are also attempting to transfer their case to federal court. These motions are still under consideration by Jones, and evidentiary hearings will take place later this month.
In the Meadows case, Jones wrote that the Court would consider the Defendants’ arguments and evidence after the next hearings, without regard to its conclusion.
Meadows and the other defendants have several reasons to consider transferring their cases to federal court. Not only would they be able to make immunity claims under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, but a federal trial would also result in fewer jurors who are more sympathetic to Trump and his co-defendants.
Although the state courthouse for this case is situated in deep-blue Fulton County, the federal court district that encompasses Furton also covers the more-Republican northern part of the country.
High-stakes hearing looming.
Meadows appeared at his hearing last month and gave a surprising testimony of over three hours to Congress to help him move his case to federal court, discussing the events that took place in the White House after the 2020 election.
Meadows argued that his work as the president’s top adviser was integrated into his role as chief of staff, even when it interfered with his political career.
Meadows stated that her role was to ensure the president’s safety and perform his duties effectively, but later on, she mentioned that serving the President of the United States takes on various forms.
The Fulton County prosecutors bombarded Meadows with inquiries about the extent to which his official position involved phone conversations between campaign lawyers, such as Raffensperger’s incriminating January 2021 call.
In the ruling, Jones utilized some of Meadows’ high-stakes testimony as evidence against him.
Jones stated that Meadows was unable to provide an explanation for the extent of his authority, except for his inability to campaign for or against the President.
Jones pointed out that Meadows admitted the lawyers he mentioned in the phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state were working for Trump or his campaign, not the government.
Raffensperger was subpoenaed by Fulton County prosecutors to testify at Meadows’ hearing, where he stated that the federal government had no role in certifying Georgia’s elections.
“A campaign call was made by Raffensperger,” he testified.
This story has been updated.