Mark Meadows, onetime chief of staff for former President Donald Trump, will be the first to make the case to a judge on Monday that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s charges against him in Georgia should be removed from state to federal court.
Meadows, one of 19 co-defendants facing felony racketeering charges for allegedly illegally attempting to overturn the 2020 election, will appear for the hearing before U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones in Atlanta at 10 a.m. local time.
Ahead of the hearing, Meadows argued through his attorneys in a court filing that he had a right to federal removal because “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 was chief of staff from March 2020 until the end of the Trump administration.
“In these circumstances, federal law provides for prompt removal of a ‘criminal prosecution … commenced in a State court … against or directed to’ a federal official,” Meadows’s attorney wrote.
Meadows is one of five co-defendants in the case to have filed a federal removal notice, and Trump is also expected to do the same. The reception Meadows receives on Monday could be an indicator for how others fare.
If Meadows were to secure federal removal, it would not erase the state charges against him but would allow jurors in a trial to be selected from a wider pool outside of the immediate area of Fulton County, which is deeply Democrat. The case would be heard before a federal judge, and the rules of federal court would apply, which would likely mean his trial would not be televised.
In the case of Trump, successfully moving his case to federal court would not change his current inability to pardon himself of state charges if he were reelected. Georgia has a unique independent board that grants pardons, and they are only granted five years after completion of a sentence.
Meadows has been aggressive in seeking federal removal. He filed an emergency motion to prevent his arrest last week based on his pending removal request, but Jones denied it, saying a hearing was needed before he would make any decisions.
Meadows then voluntarily turned himself in at Fulton County jail on Thursday and was quickly released that same day on $100,000 bond.
Willis in her indictment observed that Meadows, whom she charged with two felonies, was part of the now infamous phone call between Trump and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, during which Trump asked the secretary to “find 11,780 votes” to put him in a position to win Georgia’s election.
She also noted Meadows sent a text message to lead secretary of state investigator Frances Watson asking, “Is there a way to speed up Fulton county signature verification in order to have results before Jan. 6 if the trump campaign assist financially?”
In anticipation of Monday’s hearing, Willis subpoenaed Raffensperger, Watson, and two others familiar with the phone call, signaling she planned to use it as part of her argument that Meadows’ case should stay under her purview in Fulton County rather than be moved to federal court.
Willis also argued in a court filing ahead of the hearing that Meadows’s removal attempt illustrated his “disregard for the lawful scope of his official duties,” which are governed by the Hatch Act.
Meadows responded Friday that the argument was a “red herring” that did not justify a state-level trial.