A judge denied former Donald Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows‘ bid to move the Georgia criminal case against him from state to federal court.
Meadows, Trump, and 17 others were charged in August by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in a sprawling RICO indictment resulting from a lengthy investigation into efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.
In the notice of removal filed last month, Meadows’ attorneys argued that since “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,” to the president, the charges should be remanded to federal court.
Meadows previously testified that his actions in the Georgia indictment accusing him of taking part in an illegal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results were part of his job as then-White House chief of staff.
U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones ruled Friday that his alleged involvement was not part of his official duties as a government official, per the New York Times.
“The Court concludes that Meadows has not shown that the actions that triggered the State’s prosecution related to his federal office,” Jones wrote. He concluded that the former chief of staff was not acting in his capacity as a federal officer when he arranged the now-infamous phone call where Trump pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the nearly 12,000 votes he needed to overtake President-elect Joe Biden in Georgia.
“Meadows’s participation on the January 2, 2021 call was political in nature and involved the President’s private litigation, neither of which are related to the scope of the Office of White House Chief of Staff,” Jones continued. “The Court finds that these contributions to the phone call with Secretary Raffensperger went beyond those activities that are within the official role of White House Chief of Staff, such as scheduling the President’s phone calls, observing meetings, and attempting to wrap up meetings in order to keep the President on schedule.”
Meadows filed a notice of appeal on Friday night.
The ruling is a victory for Willis, who seeks to bring Trump and his allies to trial under Georgia’s broad criminal racketeering statute, and could impact the ex-president as he decides whether to seek removal himself. Jones’ decision is expected to serve as precedent for four other co-defendants who have also sought to move their cases to federal court.