Court denies Trump case effort by Mark Meadows to move trial to federal court

 December 19, 2023

A federal appeals court on Monday dismissed former Trump administration chief of staff Mark Meadows's attempt to shift his criminal case to federal court.

Meadows, along with former President Donald Trump and 17 others, faces charges stemming from a racketeering indictment in Fulton County alleging a criminal enterprise aimed at overturning the 2020 election defeat.

The case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in a three-judge panel, swiftly rejected Meadows's bid after oral arguments on Friday. Judge William Pryor Jr., appointed by former President George W. Bush, emphasized that Meadows's role as chief of staff did not grant him the authority to alter valid election results in favor of a specific candidate.

“Meadows cannot point to any authority for influencing state officials with allegations of election fraud,” Pryor wrote.

“At bottom, whatever the chief of staff’s role with respect to state election administration, that role does not include altering valid election results in favor of a particular candidate," he continued.

The majority opinion by Pryor was joined by Circuit Judges Robin Rosenbaum, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, and Nancy Abudu, appointed by President Joe Biden. Meadows had sought to move his case to federal court by asserting that the alleged crimes occurred during his official duties as chief of staff.

Plans to appeal

The 11th Circuit panel rejected Meadows's argument, citing a lack of "causal connection" between his "official authority" and his alleged involvement in the election subversion conspiracy.

Moving the case to federal court was viewed as a strategy to potentially secure dismissal by invoking federal immunity and accessing a broader jury pool beyond predominantly Democratic Fulton County.

Despite the appeals court's decision, Meadows retains the option to appeal to the Supreme Court or request a review by the full 11th Circuit.

Trump, a co-defendant, is one of the 19 individuals indicted in the case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in August.

What's next?

Four defendants, including lawyers Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis, along with local bail bondsman Scott Hall, have pleaded guilty as part of agreements with prosecutors.

Willis has proposed a trial commencement for the remaining defendants on August 5, three months before the election, as Trump eyes the opportunity to challenge Biden next November.

The legal proceedings underscore the complex and politically charged nature of cases involving election-related allegations and the individuals associated with them.

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