A judge ruled Friday against Mark Meadows’ bid to move the prosecution against him to federal court.
Meadows is one of 18 co-defendants charged alongside Trump in his Georgia election interference case.
A former federal prosecutor told Insider the ruling ramps up pressure on the co-defendants to flip on Trump.
Mark Meadows’ latest court flop increases the pressure facing the co-defendants charged alongside Donald Trump in the Georgia election interference case to flip on the former president and cooperate with the prosecution, one former federal prosecutor told Insider.
In a Friday ruling, US District Court Judge Steve Jones denied Meadows’ bid to move the prosecution against him to federal court.
In his ruling, Jones argued that when Meadows urged Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes to declare Trump the winner of the state in the 2020 election, his behavior fell outside the scope of his official duties of White House chief of staff and, thus, the prosecution against him should continue in Georgia state court.
“Meadows’s participation on the January 2, 2021, call was political in nature and involved the President’s private litigation, neither of which are related to the scope of the Office of White House Chief of Staff,” Jones wrote in his ruling, which Meadows’ legal team promptly appealed.
“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,” Jones continued.
Jones specified in his ruling that his decision has no bearing on the right of the other 17 individuals charged in the sprawling RICO indictment, along with Trump and Meadows, to have the cases against them moved to the federal system.
Lawyers for Meadows did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. Late Friday, an attorney representing Meadows filed a notice saying that Meadows intends to appeal the decision.
Moving the case to federal court would have offered Meadows the possibility of a more sympathetic judge to rule on the case against him, Neama Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers and a former federal prosecutor, told Insider.
The Washington Post reported that, if the case was moved to federal court, the door to a federal pardon could remain open if Trump were to win the 2024 election and become president again. But, since the president cannot pardon state-level crimes, any Georgia defendants tried in state court would have no chance at federal clemency even if Trump held office again.
With Meadows’ case staying in Georgia, Rahmani said, there’s “a lot of pressure” on Meadows and the other co-defendants to cooperate with the prosecution.
Meadows losing his bid, Rahmani added, is also “big win” for Fani Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia who brought the charges against the group, because it allows her to continue the prosecution on her “home turf,” and gives her a better chance of flipping the co-defendants against the former President.
“There’s basically two strategies: You have the Jack Smith strategy, which is to go surgical, just charge Trump, get the case to trial as quickly as possible,” Rahmani said. “But Willis, with the 19 defendants, is not hoping to go to trial against all 19 defendants — she filed against 19 defendants, and she’s hoping to get 18 cooperating co-defendants to plead guilty and try to flip against Trump.”
Meadows has thus far pleaded not guilty to to the charges against him, but Rolling Stone and Politico reported the former North Carolina Republican representative may be ready to turn on Trump if it helps his own legal defense, citing arguments in Meadows’ defense that appear to shift the blame from Meadows himself to the former president.
“It’s kind of the prisoner’s dilemma. It’s one of those situations where, for all defendants, it’s better if none of them cooperate and they all present a united front so everyone is better off,” Rahmani told Insider. “But for each individual defendant, it’s better to rat and to snitch or flip — or whatever you want to say. And usually it’s the first to do so that get the best deal. So you never know what people are going to do. But again, these aren’t career criminals. These aren’t people that have spent any time in prison. So they may well want to save themselves at Trump’s expense.”
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