Appeals court considering Meadows request to move case to federal court

December 15, 2023

A federal appeals court on Friday was considering whether the case against Trump co-defendant and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows should be transferred from state court in Georgia to federal court. 

Meadows is among 19 co-defendants, including former President Trump, who were indicted in July on racketeering and other charges by a grand jury related to attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election following a more than two-year investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

Meadows’ attorneys argued before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday that he was acting as then-President Trump’s Chief of Staff when the alleged criminal conduct occurred.

However, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones in Atlanta ruled in September that Meadows was acting on behalf of the Trump campaign in his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia and not the federal government.

During Friday’s arguments, Meadows attorneys repeated their assertions that the alleged acts their client is charged with fall “under the color” of his White House duties as Chief of Staff, and therefore he has a right to move his case from state court to federal court. 

“For purposes of removal, he doesn’t have to establish the outer limits of his office, he merely has to establish the nexus to his duties,” Meadows’ lawyer George Terwillinger told the three-judge panel on the 11th Circuit.

Willis’ prosecution team has countered that Meadows’ alleged actions 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.

Meadows and his attorneys believe he would face a potentially more favorable jury pool in a federal trial. Further, if he’s successful in arguing his case, Meadows could then attempt to claim immunity from prosecution under the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which he and his legal team have said should prohibit “state interference in a federal official’s duties.”

Several other co-defendants in the racketeering case have also made efforts to move their cases from state to federal court, including former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, and fake electors Cathy Latham, Shawn Still, and David Schaffer. Their requests so far have also been denied. 

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