ATLANTA, GA. – A day-long hearing regarding the request made by Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff under the Trump administration, to transfer the Georgia election interference case to federal court has ended. The hearing took place before US District Judge Steve Jones, who refrained from delivering a ruling on the matter during the proceedings.
While addressing the court, Judge Jones noted that the criminal case’s arraignments were scheduled for September 6. He assured those in attendance that he would expedite his decision as soon as possible, taking into consideration the pending arraignment, as reported by CNN.
Meadows’ legal team emphasized the need for a swift resolution, asserting their entitlement to a prompt determination of whether the charges against Meadows would be moved from state to federal court.
In the closing stages of the hearing, Judge Jones raised a critical question pertaining to the extent of Meadows’ federal authority compared to that of former President Trump. District Attorney Fani Willis’ office responded negatively, contending that Meadows possessed no greater authority. In contrast, Meadows’ legal team contended that his role as chief of staff conferred a wide-ranging authority, setting the stage for a key factor in determining the case’s jurisdiction.
The central issue revolves around the scope of Meadows’ federal authority and its relevance to the case’s jurisdiction. The court’s decision on this matter could dictate whether the case remains in the state court system.
During the hearing’s closing statements, Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, argued that certain actions, such as questioning the 2020 election results, fell within the bounds of Meadows’ role, while others, like shooting someone, would clearly be beyond the scope of his duties.
The pivotal question regarding the limits of Meadows’ responsibilities as a federal official was the focal point of the hearing. Terwilliger emphasized the extensive nature of the chief of staff’s role, which he asserted is intimately intertwined with federal government operations.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ team countered this argument by citing the Hatch Act, a regulation that prohibits federal officials from engaging in political activities in an official capacity. According to prosecutor Donald Wakeford, the Hatch Act establishes a distinct boundary beyond which a federal official’s responsibilities cease. Prosecutors contended that Meadows’ actions outlined in the indictment exceeded the boundaries of his job, warranting the case’s retention within the state court system.
But it was Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s testimony that could end up crippling Meadows’ attempt to move the case to a federal court.
Raffensperger testified that he did not return a call from Meadows in late 2020 because he believed it was inappropriate to engage with Meadows while then-President Donald Trump contested Georgia’s election results.
Text messages provided to the House January 6 committee by Meadows showed him texting Raffensperger in December 2020, urging the secretary of state to call the White House. Raffensperger’s decision not to return the call could potentially undermine Meadows’ argument that the communication was aligned with his federal duties rather than the Trump campaign’s interests.
Raffensperger, in his testimony, also addressed the infamous phone call from then-President Trump, where Trump sought to secure enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia.
Fulton County prosecutors asked if there was any role for the US president in certifying Georgia’s elections. Raffensperger replied there was none.
“It was a campaign call,” Raffensperger said.
Prosecutors are using Raffensperger’s testimony to challenge Meadows’ contention that his actions were rooted in his federal duties rather than his allegiance to the Trump campaign. Raffensperger’s insights into the call’s nature directly contradict Meadows’ claim.