Federal judge adjourns without making decision on Meadows motion to remove case from Georgia to federal court

August 31, 2023

Along with former President Donald Trump and 17 others, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was criminally indicted in Georgia by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis over his alleged role in a purported racketeering conspiracy to overturn that state's 2020 election results.

Meadows participated in a hearing Monday on a motion to remove his case from state to federal court, but that hearing adjourned the same day without the federal judge rendering a final decision on the matter, according to ABC News.

Judge delays on removal decision

During the hearing, attorneys for Meadows argued that he at all times in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election had been acting within the scope of his federal duties and, therefore, is immune to state-level charges -- an argument that Fulton County prosecutors obviously disagreed with and argued against.

The hours-long hearing on Monday, during which Meadows took the stand to testify on his own behalf, was ultimately concluded without a decision from the judge, who said he would give "thorough consideration" to the arguments from both sides in what he described as a "very important case" that would likely set precedent and impact other co-defendants who are similarly trying to remove their cases to federal court.

The attorneys for Meadows asked the judge to issue a "prompt" ruling as soon as possible, and the judge acknowledged that he intended to rule quickly but also told Meadows that he would have to appear for a scheduled arraignment in Fulton County court on September 6 if a ruling hadn't been issued prior to that date.

Meadows argues actions fell under federal duties

According to Politico, Meadows testified on the stand for more than three hours in the federal courtroom of U.S. District Judge Steve Jones, an Obama appointee, to make his arguments for why his case should be removed to federal court from the state court.

That included asserting that virtually all of his activities during the post-election period in question were a part of his federal duties as, essentially, the former president's chief advisor -- a duty that Meadows described as "a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week kind of job" that encompassed "a very broad responsibility."

Prosecutors, of course, sharply disagreed and countered that Meadows had not been acting in his official capacity as a federal employee when he took various actions in support of the efforts of Trump and others to challenge and dispute Georgia's reported election results.

They instead argued that Meadows had corruptly applied pressure to state officials and solicited them to violate their oaths of office as part of a broad "criminal enterprise" that sought to illegally overturn the election.

Meadows alleged to have pressured state officials to violate oaths

The Associated Press reported that the Fulton County indictment against Meadows alleges that he played a role in a wide-ranging conspiracy that involved him personally traveling to Atlanta to oversee an audit of ballot envelope signature matches; arranging a phone call between then-President Trump and an investigator for the Georgia secretary of state's office; and personally participating in the now-infamous phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

It was during that call that Trump asked Raffensperger to "find" a sufficient number of fraudulent ballots to erase President Joe Biden's reported victory in the state.

Raffensperger himself was called to testify by prosecutors, and while he seemed to help them in part by describing as "extraordinary" the efforts of Trump and others to challenge the election, he also seemingly helped the defense by admitting that Meadows had not asked him to do anything he deemed to be "inappropriate."

Decision will set precedent for others seeking removal to federal court

The AP noted that if Meadows is ultimately successful in having his case removed to federal court, it will likely be to his benefit in that he would be able to draw from a much larger and more ideologically diverse jury pool than in Fulton County alone and his trial would be less of a circus due to the lack of cameras and video in federal court.

The eventual decision on removal by Judge Jones will be closely watched as it will likely set a precedent for several other co-defendants, including Trump, who are similarly seeking to have their cases removed to federal court.

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