A federal judge denied on Friday former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ request to remove the Fulton County, Georgia, indictment against him to federal court.
Meadows was charged with two counts in a 41-count indictment that named himself, former President Donald Trump, and 17 others. Meadows is being charged under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) statute for allegedly soliciting an official to violate his oath of office.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis pointed to Meadows’ involvement in setting up calls between Trump and various state legislators as evidence of his alleged violation of state law.
Meadows’ attorneys argued he had the right to remove his case to federal court because the “conduct giving rise to the charges in the indictment all occurred during his tenure and as part of his service as Chief of Staff.” Meadows is represented by George Terwilliger, who was the U.S. deputy attorney general under President George H.W. Bush.
However, U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones denied Meadows’ request, ruling that his alleged actions did not fall under the scope of his duties as a federal government official.
“The Court concludes that Meadows has not shown that the actions that triggered the State’s prosecution related to his federal office,” Jones, an Obama appointee, wrote in a 49-page order. “Meadows’s alleged association with post-election activities was not related to his role as White House Chief of Staff or his executive branch authority.”
“The evidence adduced at the hearing establishes that the actions at the heart of the State’s charges against Meadows were taken on behalf of the Trump campaign with an ultimate goal of affecting state election activities and procedures,” the order added. “Meadows himself testified that working for the Trump campaign would be outside the scope of a White House Chief of Staff.”
Jones is a liberal judge, but Meadows can now appeal his motion to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, considered a fairly conservative appeals court.
Four other co-defendants in the case have filed motions to remove their cases to federal court. Jones said his decision on Meadows’ case “does not, at this time, have any effect on the outcome of the other co-Defendants who have filed notices of removal.”
Trump has not filed a motion to remove his case to federal court, but his attorneys announced they might file it before the deadline at the end of the month.
The case is Georgia v. Meadows, No. 1:23-cv-03621-SCJ, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.