A federal appeals court on Monday ruled that former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows cannot move charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia to federal court.
Meadows was indicted in August along with former President Donald Trump and 17 others on charges that they illegally conspired to keep the Republican incumbent in power despite him losing the election to Democrat Joe Biden.
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Meadows' request, affirming a lower court ruling from September. The ruling is a win for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who brought the case and is seeking to try the remaining defendants in a single trial.
Meadows' attorneys had argued that he should be allowed to move the case to federal court because his actions outlined in the indictment were directly related to his duties as a federal official. Prosecutors argued that Meadows failed to show any connection between his actions and his official duties and that the law allowing federal officials to move a case to federal court doesn't apply to those who have left office.
Circuit Chief Judge William Pryor wrote in Monday's ruling that the law “does not apply to former federal officers, and even if it did, the events giving rise to this criminal action were not related to Meadows's official duties.”
Meadows was one of five defendants seeking to move his case to federal court. The other four were also rejected by the lower court and have appeals pending before the 11th Circuit.
Moving Meadows' charges to federal court would have meant drawing from a jury pool that includes a broader area than just overwhelmingly Democratic Fulton County. It would have also meant an unphotographed and televised trail, as cameras are not allowed inside. But it would not have opened the door for Trump, if he’s reelected in 2024, or another president to pardon anyone because any convictions would still happen under state law.
Four people have already pleaded guilty in the Georgia election case after reaching deals with prosecutors. The remaining 15, including Trump, Meadows and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have pleaded not guilty.
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