U.S. District Judge Steve Jones in Atlanta ruled Friday that former Trump White House Chief of Staff and co-defendant Mark Meadows cannot move his trial related to Georgia’s 2020 election to federal court.
According to the judge’s order, “having considered the arguments and evidence, the court concludes that Meadows has not met his burden. Therefore, the court DECLINES to assume jurisdiction over the State’s criminal prosecution of Meadows under 28 U.S.C. § 1455 and remands the case to Fulton County Superior Court.”
Meadows is among 19 co-defendants, including former President Trump, who were indicted by a grand jury last month related to attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election, following a more than two-year investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
All 19 co-defendants face racketeering charges. Meadows, who turned himself in and had his mug shot taken Thursday, also faces an additional charge of solicitation of violating an oath by a public officer.
Meadows’ attorneys requested earlier this month to move his case from Fulton County to federal court, arguing that all of his actions from which the charges derived “occurred during his tenure and as part of his service as Chief of Staff.”
Willis’ prosecution team has countered Meadows’ assertions, insisting that the actions in question were intended solely to keep Trump in office, meaning that they were explicitly political in nature and illegal under the Hatch Act, which restricts partisan political activity by federal employees.
In a filing on Thursday, the prosecution asserted that Meadows’ alleged actions were part of a far broader scheme to aid Trump’s post-election scheme.
“The circumstances of this case are easily distinguishable,” Willis’ prosecutors wrote. “The defendant conspired not for any purpose related to his duties as chief of staff, but to transform Mr. Trump from a losing political candidate into a winning one, no matter what the outcome of the election had actually been.”
Amid his testimony under oath at his hearing August 28, Meadows stated that the phone call to Raffensperger was about Trump hoping to figure out a “less litigious way” of resolving his election concerns after Trump lost more than 60 lawsuits challenging the 2020 election’s results.
Further, Meadows testified multiple times that he could not recall all of the outreach he did to set up the phone call.
“I don’t recall. I’ve tried to recall a number of times,” Meadows said when asked who he reached out to among attorneys who took part on the call on Trump’s side.
And when asked by a prosecutor in Willis’ office why his role would include a call to settle private litigation, he responded, “I dealt with the President’s personal position on a number of things. It’s still a part of my job to make sure the President is safe and secure and able to perform his job.”
A grand jury in Georgia handed up their indictment against Meadows based on the Willis team’s allegations that Meadows participated in meetings or communications with state lawmakers along with Trump and others that were meant to advance the alleged illegal scheme to keep Trump in power; Meadows traveled to Atlanta’s suburbs where a ballot envelope signature audit was happening; and he took part in a January 2, 2021 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2, 2021, during which the then-President pressured his fellow Republican to “find” a needed 11,780 votes to overturn then-President-elect Biden’s victory in the state.
Raffensperger testified at Meadows’ hearing, stating that there was no federal role in the certification of Georgia’s elections, which he oversees as the state’s top election official. Fulton County prosecutors asked if there was any role for the President of the United States in certifying Georgia’s elections, and Raffensperger replied that there was none.
“It was a campaign call,” Raffensperger testified.
At the hearing, Trump’s team asserted that as Chief of Staff, Meadows had a “wide range of authority” that the President did not have.
Trump on Thursday issued a court filing that he “may” attempt to move his case from Fulton County to federal court.