A federal judge in Atlanta will hear arguments Monday on a request by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, one of the co-defendants charged with racketeering in the Georgia 2020 election probe, to move the Fulton County case to federal court.
The hearing comes after former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants, including Meadows, were booked at the Fulton County Jail last week in connection with efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the battleground state. The probe was launched by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
In court documents this month, Meadows’ lawyers argued that the charges in the indictment pertain to actions he took while he served in the Trump administration.
“Mr. Meadows has the right to remove this matter. The conduct giving rise to the charges in the indictment all occurred during his tenure and as part of his service as Chief of Staff,” Meadows’ lawyers wrote in a 14-page filing.
They requested “prompt removal,” citing a federal law that allows U.S. officers to remove civil or criminal trials in state court for alleged actions taken “under color” of their offices to U.S. District Court. Meadows also intends to file a motion to dismiss the indictment “as soon as is feasible,” his lawyers wrote.
They also said Meadows’ duties as chief of staff included arranging Oval Office meetings, contacting state officials on Trump’s behalf, visiting a state government building and setting up a phone call.
“Nothing Mr. Meadows is alleged in the indictment to have done is criminal per se,” they wrote. “One would expect a Chief of Staff to the President of the United States to do these sorts of things.”
Meadows was charged with two counts in the sprawling 41-count indictment: one count of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and one count of solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer.
He surrendered to authorities and was released after a federal judge in Georgia denied his bid to delay his arrest.
“Meadows argues that his federal officer status and federal immunity defense protect him from being arrested and being brought to trial in state court,” U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones wrote, noting that his case had not been moved to federal court.
“While the Court understands Meadows’s argument that the federal immunity defense includes an immunity against arrest, the statutory language” of the applicable law “is clear that the state court proceedings continue until the Court has assumed jurisdiction over the case.”
The indictment by a Georgia grand jury alleges Meadows, Trump and other unindicted co-conspirators “unlawfully solicited, requested, and importuned” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, to help them reverse the results of the presidential election.
It cites a phone call between Trump and Raffensperger that day, with the then-president urging him to “find” the votes needed to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state.
Willis last week subpoenaed Raffensperger and his former lead investigator, Frances Watson, to testify at Monday’s hearing on Meadows’ effort to move his case to federal court. A spokesperson from Raffensperger’s office declined to comment on the subpoena at the time.
Meadows, a former congressman from North Carolina who now lives in South Carolina, previously fought efforts to testify before the special grand jury in Willis’ probe about his actions in the final weeks of Trump’s presidency amid his refusal to concede the 2020 election. Meadows, however, was compelled to testify after losing court challenges.
Meadows also refused to comply with a subpoena to testify before the House Jan. 6 committee. The House voted in favor of criminal referrals for Meadows to the Justice Department, which declined to prosecute him.