A judge on Friday denied Mark Meadows' request to move his Georgia election subversion case to federal court, ruling that the Trump White House chief of staff must fight the charges in state court instead.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones in Atlanta issued the ruling after a hearing last week. He asked for additional information from both sides before reaching his decision.
Meadows appealed the judge's decision later on Friday, escalating the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Still, the ruling is a big early win for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who spent 2 1/2 years investigating and building the case against former President Donald Trump, Meadows and 17 others before obtaining the sweeping indictment under Georgia's anti-racketeering law. She has said she wants to try all the defendants together.
The defendants were indicted last month by a Fulton County grand jury on charges they participated in a sprawling scheme to illegally try to overturn Trump's 2020 presidential election loss in Georgia even though the state's voters had selected Joe Biden.
All have pleaded not guilty.
Meadows said his actions were taken as part of his role as chief of staff to the Republican president. He and his lawyers also argued that, since he was a federal official at the time, the charges against him should be heard in federal court and, ultimately, dismissed for lack of merit.
Prosecutors said the actions laid out in the indictment were meant to keep Trump in office after he lost to Biden, a Democrat. They said the acts were explicitly political in nature and are illegal under the Hatch Act, which restricts partisan political activity by federal employees. As such, they said, the case should stay in Fulton County Superior Court.
Several other people charged in the indictment have also filed motions seeking to move their cases to federal court and have hearings before Jones later this month.
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