Fulton County DA Says ‘No Federal Authority to Protect’ Meadows in Trump Case

Catherine Yang
By Catherine Yang
September 26, 2023Trump Indictment
Fulton County DA Says ‘No Federal Authority to Protect’ Meadows in Trump Case
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)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s office said former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’s actions during the 2020 elections constituted “federal meddling” not protected by the Constitution, in a response to Mr. Meadows’s appeal, filed just before midnight on Monday.

“Federal officer removal … is designed to protect federal authority, but in this case, there is no federal authority to protect,” the filing reads. “Appellant and his codefendants engaged in activities designed to accomplish federal meddling in matters of state authority.”

Mr. Meadows was charged alongside former President Donald Trump and 17 others. A grand jury handed up a 98-page, 41-count indictment, alleging all 19 defendants violated Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in their challenge of the Georgia 2020 election results.

Mr. Meadows was the first to try to move his case to federal court, but after an all-day hearing, a federal judge moved the case back to state court, noting that some of the actions in the indictment were taken by Mr. Meadows as a federal officer, and some were not.

Four co-defendants seeking removal have also had their evidentiary hearings in federal court, pending a decision. Mr. Meadows has since appealed in the 11th Circuit and is awaiting a hearing.

On Monday, Ms. Willis’s office opposed Mr. Meadows’s appeal in a filing, as did several legal scholars, former federal prosecutors, and judges in two amici briefs.

Ms. Willis argued that Mr. Meadows already “failed to meet his low burden” in federal court and there is no basis for removal. The prosecutors argue, as they did previously, that Mr. Meadows “knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.”

In addition to the RICO violation, Mr. Meadows was charged with “solicitation of violation of oath by public officer” for his role in setting up the now widely publicized phone call between President Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. However, the indictment lists several more actions undertaken by Mr. Meadows, such as setting up meetings and asking after elections investigations on behalf of President Trump, as acts to further a conspiracy.

During the lengthy hearing on Aug. 28, Mr. Meadows took the witness stand himself to testify at length. Ms. Willis argued in the new response that Mr. Meadows admitted to engaging in campaign activity outside his federal role “time and again.”

“If I were working for the campaign, that would not be my role as Chief of Staff,” he testified.

Ms. Willis argued that he admitted that both President Trump and Mr. Meadows shared “personal and political interests” in President Trump winning reelection and that he undertook several actions “to avoid being yelled at by his boss.”

After Mr. Meadows’s case was returned to state court, all of the four co-defendants seeking removal had waived their right to appear in court and be cross-examined during the evidentiary hearings.

Scholars, Attorneys Oppose Meadows Removal

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law; Brian Frosh, former Maryland Attorney General; Mark Graber, regents professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Tom Miller, former Iowa Attorney General; and Peter Shane, Jacob E. Davis and Jacob E. Davis II chair in Law Emeritus at the Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law; filed an amici brief opposing the removal of Mr. Meadows’s case.

“Mr. Meadows did not show that he had authority as Chief of Staff to the President to participate in then-President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia,” they argued, adding that Mr. Meadows also failed to show that he “did no more than what was necessary and proper.”

Like the Fulton County prosecution, the professors and attorneys invoked the Hatch Act, which prevents officials from trying to affect election results.

“The Hatch Act is fatal to any argument that Mr. Meadows was authorized to interfere with Georgia’s selection of its presidential electors,” they wrote, citing precedent that saw the Supremacy Clause was not “absolute” and did not “presuppose that federal agents can be prosecuted for violating state law.”

Former judges, prosectors, and officials filed a separate amici brief arguing Mr. Meadows’s case should not be removed.

Donald Ayer, a U.S. deputy attorney general in the Bush administration and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California in the Reagan administration; John Farmer Jr., former chief counsel to the governor of New Jeersey and U.S Attorney for the District of New Jersey in the Bush and Clinton administrations; Charles Fired, former associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court; Stuart Gerson, former U.S. assistant attorney general for the Civil Division in the Bush and Clinton administrations; J. Michael Luttig, former judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; Alan Charles Raul, former general counsel to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Bush administration; and William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts; filed the second brief.

They argued for the state authority over their own matters, writing that the Supreme Court has long recognized a “strong judicial policy against federal interference with state criminal proceedings.”

“The Constitution of the United States confers upon the 50 States a compelling interest in prosecuting—in their own courts—criminal interference with their administration of federal elections,” they wrote.

They argued that the actions in the indictment “bore no connection to any duty of Mr. Meadows’s (or Mr. Trump’s) office,” dismissing not just Supremacy Clause arguments, but defenses under the First and 14th Amendments as well.

They argue that elections are state matters, especially in this case, and that the Georgia prosecution does not interfere with federal operations.

Mr. Meadows has until Sept. 28 to file a reply. A hearing has not been scheduled.

Mr. Meadows has until Oct. 10 to file a civil appeal statement and a motion to file documents out of time, or his appeal will be dismissed.

From The Epoch Times

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