Mark Meadows argues he’s immune from prosecution in Fulton

Then-President Trump and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at the White House in 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Then-President Trump and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at the White House in 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is urging a federal judge to dismiss the charges against him that were handed up by a Fulton County grand jury last week.

In a 28-page motion filed on Saturday, Meadows’ attorneys argued that their client is immune from state charges for the work he did when he was a federal official carrying out his job.

“The State’s prosecution of Mr. Meadows threatens the important federal interest in providing the President of the United States with close, confidential advice and assistance, firmly entrenched in federal law for nearly 100 years,” attorneys Joseph Englert, George Terwilliger, John Moran and Michael Francisco argued.

If such a prosecution were allowed to move forward, they continued, it would give “rise to precisely the sort of state interference in federal affairs the Supremacy Clause (of the U.S. Constitution) prohibits.”

A spokesman for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who secured racketeering and other election interference-related charges against Meadows, former President Donald Trump and 17 others, declined to comment.

The filing came days after Meadows’ attorneys sought to move their client’s case from state to federal court under the so-called removal statute, which was enacted in 1789 to protect federal officials from being harassed and prosecuted by state officials. Trump and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark are expected to make similar moves.

U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones scheduled an evidentiary hearing for Meadows’ removal push for Aug. 28.

Meadows on Monday was charged with racketeering and solicitation of violation of oath of by a public officer in conjunction with actions he undertook after the 2020 elections in Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Among the acts cited in the indictment were Meadows’ unannounced Dec. 2020 visit to the Cobb County Civic Center as a signature match audit was underway, and his successful effort to put Trump in touch with Francis Watson, then the Secretary of State’s chief investigator who was helping carry out the audit.

A few days later, Meadows allegedly texted Watson and asked if there was a way to speed up a signature verification audit in Fulton that Trump was seeking out so it could be completed before the Electoral College vote was finalized on Jan. 6, according to the indictment, which called that act and others “an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.”

Meadows was also charged with solicitation of violation of oath of public officer for his role in the Jan. 2, 2021 phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The indictment alleges that Meadows and Trump were trying to prompt Raffensperger to commit a felony “by unlawfully altering, unlawfully adjusting, and otherwise unlawfully influencing the certified returns for presidential electors for the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Georgia.”

What’s next in Fulton County?

The 41-count indictment handed up in Fulton County last week against Donald Trump and 18 of his allies is the beginning of what is certain to be a long and complicated legal process.

Here’s what to expect next:

SURRENDERS: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis set a deadline of Friday, Aug. 25 at noon for the 19 defendants to turn themselves in for processing. By Sunday evening, it did not appear that any had done so, despite Sheriff Patrick Labat noting that the Fulton County Jail was open 24/7. That means it’s likely to be a busy week at the Atlanta jail. Additionally, lawyers for those charged will be meeting with Willis and her staff this week to negotiate bond and other terms of surrender.

FEDERAL COURT Trump’s attorneys are expected to file a motion seeking to get the case against him moved to federal court. Lawyers for his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have already filed such a motion, and an Aug. 28 hearing has been set in front of U.S. District Court Judge Steven Jones.

REPUBLICAN DEBATE: Trump isn’t participating in Wednesday’s Republican debate, the first of the presidential primary season. But for the GOP candidates who have qualified to appear on the stage in Milwaukee, the former president’s legal woes are likely to loom large. It’s possible Trump could surrender in Atlanta either just before or after the debate.