Federal Court in Mark Meadows Case Orders Extra Briefing From Attorneys

Matthew Vadum
By Matthew Vadum
August 30, 2023Politics
Federal Court in Mark Meadows Case Orders Extra Briefing From Attorneys
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks during a news briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on July 31, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The federal judge hearing former Trump aide Mark Meadows’s motion to have Georgia racketeering charges related to the 2020 presidential election heard in federal court has ordered attorneys in the case to provide an additional briefing on the state’s racketeering law.

The new order was issued Aug. 29 by federal Judge Steve C. Jones of the Northern District of Georgia, who was appointed in 2011 by President Barack Obama.

The order came a day after Mr. Meadows, the former Trump White House chief of staff, told a federal court in Atlanta that because his involvement in the disputed presidential election in Georgia was related to his job as a White House official, his case should be tried in federal court.

Judge Jones adjourned the federal removal hearing late in the day on Aug. 28 after hearing several hours of testimony from witnesses.

The judge said he had to research some points of law and would attempt to issue a ruling before Sept. 6, but said if he failed to do so, Mr. Meadows would have to report to state court, as required, on that day to be arraigned.

In a new two-page order, Judge Jones wrote that the racketeering count “contains a number of overt acts attributed to Mr. Meadows.”

It asks, “Would a finding that at least one (but not all) of the overt acts charged occurred under the color of Meadows’s office, be sufficient for federal removal of a criminal prosecution under 28 U.S.C. [section] 1442(a)(1)?”

The attorneys acting for Mr. Meadows and Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis were directed to respond to the court by Aug. 31 at 5 p.m.

Mr. Meadows is arguing he is immune from state prosecution under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which elevates federal law over state law. In other words, Mr. Meadows contends that he cannot be prosecuted in state court because whatever he did, it was done in his official capacity as a federal officer, and he has federal defenses available to him.

The Aug. 28 hearing was held because Mr. Meadows filed a notice of removal in federal court in Atlanta on Aug. 15. The notice “removes” or transfers the case to federal court on a provisional basis. A hearing follows in federal court, and the judge rules on whether to keep the case in federal court. If removal is denied, the case is remanded back to state court.

Judge Jones presided over the all-day hearing in which Mr. Meadows and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger provided testimony on the federal removal issue.

Bellwether Case

The hearing is being closely watched because this is the first time that substantive arguments have been made in court in any of the four criminal cases that have been brought against former President Donald Trump and his fellow defendants this year.

Some liken the hearing to a mini-trial for President Trump and his co-defendants and speculate that the treatment Mr. Meadows receives in federal court will be a bellwether for how the various Trump-related prosecutions will proceed.

President Trump, Mr. Meadows, and 17 co-defendants were indicted by a state grand jury in Fulton County on Aug. 14 over the former chief executive’s challenge to the election.

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after surrendering at the Fulton County jail in Atlanta on Aug. 24, 2023. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Prosecutors have focused on what was said in a Jan. 2, 2021, telephone conversation between President Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which they discussed, among other things, the vote count in the state and what options the two officials had available to them. Prosecutors say President Trump and others unlawfully attempted to interfere in the electoral process, an accusation he adamantly denies.

Charges against the cohort of defendants range from violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, soliciting the violation of an oath by a public officer, conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, and conspiracy to commit filing of false documents.

Mr. Meadows himself is charged with one count of violating the Georgia RICO Act and one count of solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer.

The legal language in the indictment (pdf) specifically alleges that on Jan. 2, 2021, Mr. Meadows “unlawfully solicited, requested, and importuned … Raffensperger, a public officer, to engage in conduct constituting the felony offense of Violation of Oath by Public Officer, O.C.G.A. §l6-10-1, by unlawfully altering, unlawfully adjusting, and otherwise unlawfully influencing the certified returns for presidential electors for the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Georgia.”

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows (C) listens as U.S. President Donald Trump meets with energy sector CEOs in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington on April 3, 2020. (Doug Mills-The New York Times-Pool/Getty Images)

Mr. Meadows and all the defendants in the case are accused of violating the Georgia RICO Act from Nov. 4, 2020, which is the day after the presidential election, to Sept. 15, 2022.

The defendants “unlawfully conspired and endeavored to conduct and participate in, directly and indirectly, such [illegal] enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity[.]”

An event referred to as Act 19 in the indictment was discussed at the removal hearing on Aug. 28.

It was a reference to a December 2020 meeting with White House staffer John McEntee in which President Trump and Mr. Meadows allegedly asked for “a memorandum outlining a strategy for disrupting and delaying the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.” The strategy involved having Vice President Mike Pence “count only half of the electoral votes from certain states and then return the remaining electoral votes to state legislatures,” in the words of the indictment.

Mr. Meadows said he didn’t remember this act and would have been surprised if he had been involved in it because it was the kind of thing that would have gone to White House counsel, and Mr. McEntee, who dealt with personnel matters, was not a lawyer.

“Me asking John McEntee for this kind of a memo did not happen,” Mr. Meadows told the federal court during the removal hearing.

The indictment also lists other “overt acts” said to be “in furtherance” of a conspiracy that Mr. Meadows allegedly participated in.

Act 5 is meeting with Michigan state lawmakers on Nov. 20, 2020. Act 6 is texting a Pennsylvania federal lawmaker on Nov. 21, 2020. Act 9 is meeting with Pennsylvania legislators at the White House on Nov. 25, 2020, to discuss holding a special session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Act 92 is the allegation that Mr. Meadows attended a signature match audit in Cobb County, Georgia, on Dec. 22, 2020, where he was prevented “from entering into the space where the audit was being conducted.”

Act 93 is the allegation that Mr. Meadows arranged a Dec. 23, 2020, telephone call in which President Trump “falsely stated that he had won the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Georgia ‘by hundreds of thousands of votes.’”

Act 96 is the allegation that Mr. Meadows sent a text message on Dec. 27, 2020, to a Georgia election official 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 [sic] financially.”

Act 112 is the allegation that on Jan. 2, 2021, Mr. Meadows “committed the felony offense” of soliciting Mr. Raffensperger to violate his oath of office by affecting the election results.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled on Aug. 28 that all 19 defendants in the Georgia case will be arraigned separately on Sept. 6, but three of the defendants jumped the gun and entered their pleas early.

Attorneys Sidney Powell and Ray Smith, as well as publicist Trevian Kutti, have entered “not guilty” pleas.

The Epoch Times reached out for comment on Judge Jones’s new order to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s office. Jeff DiSantis, deputy district attorney in the media relations division, had not responded as of press time.

The Epoch Times also asked Mr. Meadows’s counsel, Mr. Terwilliger, who works for the law firm of McGuire Woods in Washington, to comment but had not received a reply at the time of publication.

From The Epoch Times