Mark Meadows in a police booking mugshot released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.
Fulton County Sheriff’s Office | via Reuters
The decision keeps — for now — Meadows’ case in Fulton County Superior Court, a Georgia state court in Atlanta.
Hours after the ruling, lawyers for Meadows filed a notice saying they will appeal it to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Meadows was indicted with Trump and 17 other co-defendants last month by a grand jury in that court on charges related to their efforts to reverse former President Donald Trump‘s loss in Georgia’s 2020 election to President Joe Biden.
Trump’s lawyer on Thursday told a Fulton County judge in a filing that the former president might soon seek to have his own case transferred to federal court. Four other defendants besides Meadows already have made such requests.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones in his lengthy order Friday in Atlanta federal court said that Meadows has not met his burden to show that moving his case there from Fulton County court was proper under a statute authorizing removing legal cases against federal officers from state courts.
“The Court concludes that Meadows has not shown that the actions that triggered the State’s prosecution related to his federal office,” wrote Jones, who held a hearing on the request last week.
“Meadows’s alleged association with post-election activities was not related to his role as White House Chief of Staff or his executive branch authority.”
Jones noted that just one of the eight allegedly overt criminal acts committed by Meadows, asking Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pennsylvania, for phone numbers for the leaders of Pennsylvania’s legislature on Trump’s behalf “could have occurred within the scope of Meadows’ federal office.”
“The actions at the heart of the State’s charges against Meadows were taken on behalf of the Trump campaign with an ultimate goal of affecting state election activities and procedures,” Jones wrote.
“Meadows himself testified that working for the Trump campaign would be outside the scope of a White House Chief of Staff,” added Jones, who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama.
If any of the other defendants do succeed in transferring their cases to federal court, they still will face the same state criminal charges there, and the same prosecutors from the Fulton County District Attorney’s office.
Although Jones said in his order that his rejection of Meadows’ removal request would not affect the same requests by other defendants, it likely does not bode well for those bids.
Other than Trump, Meadows was seen by experts as having the best shot at transferring the case to federal court because he held a federal post and lived in Washington, D.C. at the time of the alleged crimes.
The federal court in Atlanta is seen as a potentially more favorable venue for the defendants than the state court because its jury pool is drawn from a larger area, and thus is likely to include more Republicans.