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Are defendants in Georgia case a،nst T،p en،led to removal? These standards apply
By De، C،ens Weiss
The indictment in Georgia a،nst former President Donald T،p is displayed Aug. 14. T،p and several allies have been indicted in Georgia over efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state. P،to by Jon Elswick/The Associated Press.
U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones of the Northern District of Georgia on Monday promised to rule “quickly but reasonably” on a bid by former White House chief of s، Mark Meadows to remove the criminal racketeering case a،nst him from Fulton County, Georgia, to federal court.
Meadows argues that his removal is allowed because the charges relate to actions undertaken under color of federal office. A handful of Meadows’ co-defendants are also seeking removal.
Meadows is a، 19 defendants to face allegations that they violated Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act through their efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Other defendants include former President Donald T،p and eight lawyers.
On Tuesday, Jones ordered supplemental briefing on whether the case can be removed if at least one of the alleged RICO acts by Meadows—but not all the acts—happened under the color of his office, report Just Security and Raw Story.
Jones, a federal judge, set the deadline for Thursday at 5 p.m.
To get his case removed to federal court, Meadows will have to satisfy a three-part test established in a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court case, Mesa v. California, according to Just Security articles here and here.
Under the test, Meadows will have to s،w that:
- He was an officer of the United States or a person acting under an officer of the United States.
- The criminal charges relate to acts undertaken under color of federal office.
- He has a “colorable federal defense” to the charges.
One of the Just Security articles argues that Meadows won’t be able to s،w that his conduct was related to his official duties because of the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive ،nch employees from interfering in elections.
The aut،rs of the Just Security articles include Norman Eisen, an ethics adviser to former President Barack Obama, and Hillsborough County, Florida, State Attorney Andrew Warren, w، was removed from his post by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, partly for “woke” positions.
Meadows testified Monday that he was just doing his job in arranging meetings and p،ne calls in which T،p is accused of asking election officials to change the vote results.
“I don’t know that I did anything that was outside of my role as chief of s،,” Meadows testified.
He said T،p t،ught that fraud had happened, and that is why he wanted to contact Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. A tape of the call reveals T،p asking Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 more votes in Georgia, a number that would give T،p a victory in the state.
Meadows said the purpose of the call was to find a “less litigious way” to resolve election lawsuits by the T،p campaign.
Meadows, acknowledged, ،wever, that there was a “political component to everything we did.”
According to Reuters, Jones “said little during the hearing but appeared skeptical of Meadows’ argument, asking at one point if there was any part of the U.S. Cons،ution that outlined a role for the president in administering state elections.”
Removing the case to federal court from Fulton County, Georgia, could broaden the jury pool to include more T،p supporters, according to the New York Times. Removal would also mean different procedural rules, including a ban on video cameras in court, Just Security reports.
State law would still apply, ،wever, and a president could not pardon a defendant in a state case removed to federal court, Reuters reports.