Appeals court says Mark Meadows can’t move Georgia election case charges to federal court

ATLANTA– A federal appeals court ruled Monday that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows cannot bring charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia in federal court.

Meadows was indicted in August along with former President Donald Trump and 17 others on charges that they illegally conspired to keep the Republican incumbent in power despite him losing the election to Democrat Joe Biden.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Meadows' request and affirmed a lower court ruling from September. The ruling is a victory for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who filed the case and wants to try the remaining suspects in one trial.

Meadows' attorneys had argued that he should be allowed to move the case to federal court because his actions described in the indictment were directly related to his duties as a federal official. Prosecutors argued that Meadows failed to show any connection between his actions and his official duties and that the law allowing federal officials to refer a case to federal court does not apply to those who have left office.

Chief Circuit Judge William Pryor wrote in Monday's ruling that the law “does not apply to former federal officers, and even if it did, the events giving rise to this criminal action would not have been related to Meadows' official duties .”

Meadows was one of five defendants who wanted to take his case to federal court. The other four were also dismissed by the lower court and are pending appeal to the 11th Circuit.

Moving Meadows' indictment to federal court would have meant using a jury pool that included a broader area than just predominantly Democratic Fulton County. It would also have meant an unphotographed course on television, as cameras are not allowed inside. But it would not have opened the door for Trump, if re-elected in 2024, or for any other president to pardon anyone, because any convictions would still occur under state law.

Four people have already pleaded guilty in the Georgia election case after reaching agreements with prosecutors. The remaining fifteen, including Trump, Meadows and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have pleaded not guilty.