Appeals court rejects Mark Meadows’ attempt to move Georgia election subversion case to federal court

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters following a television interview, outside the White House in Washington, DC, on October 21, 2020.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters following a television interview, outside the White House in Washington, DC, on October 21, 2020.Al Drago/ReutersCNN — 

A federal appeals court has rejected former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ attempt to move his Georgia election interference criminal case to federal court.

The opinion of the three-judge panel of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, delivered by a conservative jurist appointed to the court by former President George W. Bush, is a resounding blow to arguments raised by Meadows that his case should be moved because the allegations in the indictment were connected to his official duties in the Trump White House.

“At bottom, whatever the chief of staff’s role with respect to state election administration, that role does not include altering valid election results in favor of a particular candidate,” wrote Chief Judge William Pryor.

“So there is no ‘casual connection’ between Meadows’s ‘official authority’ and his alleged participation in the conspiracy,” Pryor added.

Pryor said that the federal removal statute at issue “does not apply to former federal officers,” but that even if it did, “the events giving rise to this criminal action were not related Meadows’s official duties.”

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Pryor was joined in his opinion by Circuit Judges Robin Rosenbaum, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, and Nancy Abudu, an appointee of President Joe Biden.

Moving the case to federal court could let Meadows get the charges dismissed altogether by invoking federal immunity extended to certain individuals who are prosecuted or sued for conduct tied to their US government roles.

Meadows has the option of appealing the decision to the Supreme Court or asking the full appeals court to hear the case.

Meadows was the first of five defendants to file motions to move the case to federal court, and the appeals court’s decision in his case will likely make it difficult for his co-defendants to successfully move their cases to federal court.

Meadows was charged by Fulton County prosecutors in August and accused of violating Georgia’s RICO law, while also trying to solicit Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to violate his oath of office. The charges concern a heated phone call in which Meadows and Trump pressed Raffensperger to overturn the 2020 election results. Meadows has pleaded not guilty.

The judges were extremely critical in the ruling of Meadows’ conduct that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis cited to bring the charges against him, saying he had “no official authority to operate on behalf of the Trump campaign.”

“Meadows also cannot point to any authority for influencing state officials with allegations of election fraud,” the opinion said. “Nor did Meadows’s official duties include interference with state election procedures.”

In a concurring opinion, Rosenbaum urged Congress to amend the law at issue to also “protect” former federal officers.

Meadows’ attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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