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Meadows’s bid to move Georgia election case to federal court rejected

The judges ruled that ‘the events giving rise to this criminal action were not related to Meadows’s official duties’

Mark Meadows, seen on the White House South Lawn in 2020, faces state charges in a sweeping criminal racketeering case in Georgia. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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ATLANTA — A federal appeals court on Monday unanimously rejected an effort by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to move the Georgia election interference case against him from state to federal court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld a lower-court ruling from September that found Meadows had not proved his alleged conduct charged as part of the sweeping criminal racketeering case was related to his official duties as former president Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff.

Meadows was indicted along with Trump and 17 others in August on charges they illegally conspired to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia. Meadows, who has pleaded not guilty, had sought to move his case to federal court, claiming protections under a federal statute that allows federal officials to move legal cases against them from state to federal court when the charges are tied to official duties.

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A three-judge appellate court panel heard oral arguments on Meadows’s appeal Friday. Chief Judge William Pryor and Judges Robin Rosenbaum and Nancy Abudu appeared skeptical of Meadows’s claims that his alleged actions outlined in the Fulton County indictment were tied to his official government duties.

In Monday’s 49-page opinion, written by Pryor, the court ruled the federal removal statute “does not apply to former federal officers, and even if it did, the events giving rise to this criminal action were not related to Meadows's official duties.”

“Even if Meadows were ‘an officer,’ his participation in an alleged conspiracy to overturn a presidential election was not related to his official duties,” Pryor wrote, affirming the earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones, who rejected Meadows’s removal effort.

George Terwilliger, an attorney for Meadows, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Meadows has the option of appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision is another legal setback for Meadows, one of five defendants who have sought to move their cases out of state court. The other four — former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and Cathy Latham, David Shafer and Shawn Still, Georgia Republicans who served as Trump electors — also have pending appeals before the 11th Circuit after lower courts rejected their removal requests.

The appellate court ruling marks another legal victory for Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D), who is leading the prosecution of Trump and his allies and is seeking to try all 15 remaining defendants in the case in a single trial beginning in August.

More on the Trump Georgia case

The latest: Four of Trump’s co-defendants have pleaded guilty in the Georgia election case. Trump previously entered a plea of not guilty. The Washington Post published details of recorded statements given to prosecutors by the co-defendants who accepted plea deals in the case, offering previously undisclosed information about the effort by Trump and his allies to reverse his defeat.

The charges: Trump was charged with 13 counts, including violating the state’s racketeering act. Read the full text of the Georgia indictment. Here’s a breakdown of the charges against Trump and a list of everyone else who was charged in the Georgia case. Trump now faces 91 total charges in four criminal cases.

The case: Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) has been investigating whether Trump and his associates broke the law when they sought to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia. Here’s what happens next in the Georgia case.

Historic mug shot: Trump surrendered at the Fulton County Jail on charges that he illegally conspired to overturn his 2020 election loss. Authorities released his booking record — including his height and weight — and mug shot.