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Why did Mark Meadows try to move his case to federal court?

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows pleaded not guilty to the two felony charges he faces in Fulton County as part of the ongoing criminal case there regarding the conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 Georgia presidential election.

Mark Meadows
Chris Kleponis | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Soon after being indicted, Meadows filed a motion to “remove” his case from state court in Fulton County to federal court in the Northern District of Georgia. Meadows is one of several of the 19 defendants seeking to have their cases tried in federal court, rather than in Fulton County.


U.S. District Judge Steve Jones rejected his request on Sept. 8, 2023. Meadows has appealed the ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of appeals, setting up a potential U.S. Supreme Court case on this issue down the line.


What is Meadows’ argument?

Meadows claims the activities he engaged in, as outlined in the indictment, fell under his official duties as White House chief of staff, and that this gives a federal court jurisdiction over his case.


What is the counter-argument?

Prosecutors argued successfully at the district court that Meadows was acting as a political associate of Trump at the time of these activities, rather than in his official capacity as Trump’s chief of staff. They asserted that none of the acts he is alleged to have committed were done in furtherance of his official role as chief of staff, but were instead done for the Trump campaign.


Why would Meadows want to move his case to federal court?

The Fulton County District Attorney’s office would still prosecute the case against Meadows, regardless of which court it ends up in.


In federal court in the Northern District of Georgia, however, the jury would be drawn from a larger swath of 10 counties in northern Georgia, not just from democratic-leaning Fulton County.


Additionally, the Northern District of Georgia federal court does not allow cameras or video recordings in their courtrooms. Judge McAfee, however, has indicated that live video will be permitted in any proceedings and trials that take place before him in Georgia state court.


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