Mark Meadows, who was Donald Trump’s chief of staff during the 2020 election and the ensuing efforts to overturn its results, is trying to transfer his Georgia state prosecution to federal court with the goal of having the charges against him dismissed.
In court papers filed Tuesday, lawyers for Meadows argued that the case against him should be moved out of Georgia state court so that Meadows can argue in federal court that he is immune from the prosecution under the U.S. Constitution. The charges against him, his lawyers said, amount to “state interference in a federal official’s duties” in violation of the Constitution’s supremacy clause. Meadows intends to file a separate request for “prompt dismissal” of the charges, his lawyers added.
Meadows is one of 19 defendants, including Trump himself, ensnared in the wide-ranging indictment unveiled on Monday night by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. The indictment alleges a sprawling “criminal enterprise” aimed at overturning the 2020 presidential election, and it details Meadows’ facilitation of Trump’s communications with Georgia state officials as Trump pressured them to upend the results. Meadows was charged with two felony counts: one for racketeering and another for soliciting a public officer to violate the oath of office.
“Mr. Meadows has the right to remove this matter,” Meadows’ team wrote Tuesday, referring to the legal term, “removal,” used to designate the transfer of a case from state to federal court. “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 is the first defendant to try to take the case federal, but others — including Trump — are expected to follow suit. A federal law, known as a “removal statute,” generally allows an “officer of the United States” facing charges in state court to transfer the proceedings to federal court if the alleged behavior falls under their governmental duties.
Some legal experts have argued that transfer in these circumstances is not appropriate because interfering with the results of an election does not count as conduct falling within an officer’s official duties.
Meadows filed his motion in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, where his request was assigned to Judge Steve Jones, an Obama appointee.