Judge rejects Mark Meadows’ bid to move election interference case to federal court
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A federal judge on Friday rejected former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ bid to move his Georgia criminal case to federal court, a significant setback for Meadows and a troubling sign for former President Donald Trump.
US District Court Judge Steve Jones wrote in the decision that Meadows had not met even the “‘quite low’ threshold for removal” to federal court, because his activities for the Trump campaign were outside the scope of his federal role as White House chief of staff.
“The Court finds that the color of the Office of the White House Chief of Staff did not include working with or working for the Trump campaign, except for simply coordinating the President’s schedule, traveling with the President to his campaign events, and redirecting communications to the campaign,” Jones wrote. “Thus, consistent with his testimony and the federal statutes and regulations, engaging in political activities is exceeds the outer limits of the Office of the White House Chief of Staff.”
The ruling against Meadows has significant implications for the former president and his 18 co-defendants in the Fulton County district attorney’s sprawling racketeering case. Meadows was the first of five defendants who already filed motions to move the case to federal court – and Trump is expected to do so, too.
Meadows unsuccessfully argued that his case, now playing out in Georgia state court, should be moved because the allegations in the indictment were connected to his official duties as White House chief of staff.
Jones wrote that the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal officials from engaging in political activity as part of their official duties, was “helpful in defining the outer limits of the scope the White House Chief of Staff’s authority.”
“These prohibitions on executive branch employees (including the White House Chief of Staff) reinforce the Court’s conclusion that Meadows has not shown how his actions relate to the scope of his federal executive branch office. Federal officer removal is thereby inapposite,” the judge wrote in the decision.
Meadows’ lawyers wanted the case in federal court so they could try to get it dismissed altogether, invoking federal immunity extended to certain individuals who are prosecuted or sued for conduct tied to their US government roles.
The judge’s decision could now set the tone for the other defendants also trying to move their cases, hoping to invoke the same federal immunity protections.
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