Mark Meadows in a police booking mugshot released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.
Fulton County Sheriff’s Office | via Reuters
A judge on Friday denied Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ request to transfer his criminal conspiracy case in the Georgia election to federal court in Atlanta.
The decision means Meadows’ case will remain in Fulton County Superior Court, a Georgia state court in Atlanta.
Meadows was indicted along with Trump and 17 other co-defendants last month by a grand jury in that court on charges related to their efforts to overturn former President Donald Trump’s loss in Georgia’s 2020 election. to President Joe Biden.
Trump’s attorney told a Fulton County judge Thursday in a filing that the former president may seek to move his own case to federal court. Four other defendants besides Meadows have already made such requests.
US District Judge Steve Jones said in a lengthy order in Atlanta federal court on Friday that Meadows had not met his burden to show that moving his case there from Fulton County court was proper under a law that allows removing legal cases against federal officials from state courts.
“The Court concludes that Meadows has not shown that the actions that triggered the State’s prosecution were related to his federal office,” wrote Jones, who held a hearing on the request last week.
“Meadows’ alleged involvement in post-election activities is unrelated to his role as White House Chief of Staff or his authority in the executive branch.”
Jones noted that was just one of eight alleged overt criminal acts committed by Meadows, asking Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pennsylvania, of phone numbers for Pennsylvania legislative leaders on Trump’s behalf “may have occurred within the scope of Meadows’ federal office.”
“The actions at the center of the State’s charges against Meadows were taken on behalf of the Trump campaign with an ulterior motive to affect the state’s election activities and procedures,” Jones wrote.
“Meadows himself testified that working for the Trump campaign was outside the purview of a White House Chief of Staff,” added Jones, who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama.
If any of the other defendants succeed in moving their cases to federal court, they will still face the same state criminal charges there, and the same prosecutors from the Fulton County District Attorney’s office.
Although Jones said in his order that his denial of Meadows’ severance request would not affect the same requests by the other defendants, it likely does not bode well for those bids.
Other than Trump, Meadows was seen by experts as having the best shot at transferring the case to federal court because he held a federal post and lived in Washington, DC at the time of the alleged crimes.
Federal court in Atlanta is seen as a potentially more favorable venue for defendants than state court because its jury pool is drawn from a larger area, and thus tends to include more Republicans.