Judge denies Mark Meadows' bid to remove his Georgia election case to federal court
A federal judge in Georgia on Friday denied former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' bid to move his Fulton County election interference case to federal court.
"Having considered the arguments and the evidence, the Court concludes that Meadows has not met his burden," Judge Steve Jones wrote in a 49-page order.
Meadows has already filed notice with the court that he intends to appeal the ruling from Judge Jones to the eleventh circuit.
The notice of appeal came just hours after he lost his bid to remove the case to federal court.
Meadows had sought to have his case moved based on a federal law that calls for the removal of criminal proceedings brought in state court to the federal court system when someone is charged for actions they allegedly took as a federal official acting "under color" of their office.
In ruling against Meadows, Jones found that Meadows did not meet what Jones called the "quite low" bar for removal, and that Meadows "failed to demonstrate how the election-related activities that serve as the basis for the charges in the Indictment are related to any of his official acts."
"The evidence adduced at the hearing establishes that the actions at the heart of the State's charges against Meadows were taken on behalf of the Trump campaign with an ultimate goal of affecting state election activities and procedures," the order said. "Meadows himself testified that Working for the Trump campaign would be outside the scope of a White House Chief of Staff."
"The color of the Office of the White House Chief of Staff did not include working with or working for the Trump campaign, except for simply coordinating the President's schedule, traveling with the President to his campaign events, and redirecting communications to the campaign," the judge wrote.
Specifically, Jones found that out of the eight overt acts that Meadows is alleged to have carried out in the Fulton County DA's indictment, Meadows showed that just one of them "could have occurred" within the scope of his duties: a text message he sent to Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania asking for phone numbers of members of the Pennsylvania legislature.
Jones found that Meadows arranging the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call in which then-President Donald Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" the votes needed to win the state was "campaign-related political activity," and that Meadows' participation in that call was "political in nature."
"The record is clear that Meadows substantively discussed investigating alleged fraud in the November 3, 2022 presidential election," the order said. "Therefore, the Court finds that these contributions to the phone call with Secretary Raffensperger went beyond those activities that are within the official role of White House Chief of Staff, such as scheduling the President's phone calls, observing meetings, and attempting to wrap up meetings in order to keep the President on schedule."
The judge also sided with prosecutors in finding that "The Constitution does not provide any basis for executive branch involvement with State election and post-election procedures."
Four of Meadows' co-defendants in the case -- former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, former Coffee County GOP chair Cathy Latham, current Georgia state Sen. Shawn Still, and former Georgia GOP chair David Shafer -- have also filed motions requesting their cases be removed to federal court.
Attorneys for Trump on Thursday notified the court that they may also seek to have the former president's case moved into federal court, according to a court filing.
Trump and 18 others have pleaded not guilty to all charges in a sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia.