Former Trump chief of staff seeks to move Georgia state criminal case to federal court News
Office of Congressman Mark Meadows // Public domain
Former Trump chief of staff seeks to move Georgia state criminal case to federal court

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows asked a Georgia federal court on Tuesday to take up the criminal case against him. Meadows was indicted with former US President Donald Trump and 17 others by a Fulton County, Georgia grand jury on Monday over their attempts to overturn the 2020 US presidential election in the state. Meadows claims that the two criminal charges he faces in Georgia should be removed to federal court because the alleged criminal actions took place while he served as a federal officer—namely, as chief of staff to former President Trump.

Meadows currently faces two criminal charges in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ indictment: violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer. Within Georgia, the RICO charge covers Meadows’ attempted observation of a closed-door vote audit and fielding communications with elected officials so that Trump could claim the vote was stolen. Beyond Georgia, the RICO charge encompasses meetings with elected officials in Michigan and Pennsylvania to overturn the vote as well as planning to disrupt the congressional certification of the vote on January 6, 2021. The solicitation charge stems from an infamous January 2, 2021 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump asked Raffensperger to find him enough votes to overcome current President Joe Biden’s electoral lead in the state.

In his Tuesday motion, Meadows stated that he intends to file another motion to dismiss the criminal charges altogether. But, in the meantime, he asked that the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia remove Willis’ case to federal court.

Meadows claims that the federal court is better suited to hear the case because all of the alleged criminal conduct occurred while he still served as Trump’s chief of staff. All of the alleged criminal conduct in Willis’ indictment occurred before January 20, 2021, which is when Meadows’ tenure as chief of staff officially came to an end. Additionally, Meadows claims that none of the actions contained in Willis’ Georgia indictment are “criminal per se” because “[o]ne would expect a Chief of Staff to the President of the United States to do these sorts of things.”

Meadows’ motion relies heavily upon the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, which traditionally prohibits states from interfering with the federal government’s exercise of its constitutional powers. Meadows claims that the clause applies here because the alleged criminal actions contained in Willis’ indictment were all supposedly committed under the color of Meadows’ position as chief of staff. Because of this, Meadows argued that the court “should promptly dismiss the charges against [him], or at a minimum, accept removal so as to stay the state-court proceedings.”

The court gave Willis until August 23 to respond to Meadows’ motion and scheduled an evidentiary hearing for August 28 to hear arguments on the motion.

Meadows is one of 19 defendants, including Trump, in Willis’ indictment. The 41-count indictment alleges that Trump and his allies conspired to interfere in Georgia’s election process and certification efforts during the 2020 US presidential election. If the court were to grant Meadows’ removal from state court, it would only apply to the portions of Willis’ case that pertain to him. The other 18 defendants must file their own motions to remove if they also want to move Willis’ case from state to federal court.