Appeals Court Rules Georgia Will Try Meadows

Chief judge doesn't buy former Trump chief of staff's expansive views of job description
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2023 4:52 PM CST
Appeals Court Rules Georgia Will Try Meadows
James Durham, attorney for Mark Meadows, speaks in Superior Court of Fulton County before Judge Scott McAfee as part of the Georgia election indictments on Dec. 1 in Atlanta.   (John David Mercer/USA Today via AP, Pool)

Mark Meadows will be be tried on Georgia charges in a Georgia court, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. The onetime White House chief of staff under Donald Trump was trying to have his prosecution on state election counts moved to federal court, where he planned to argue for immunity because he was working for the president. A federal judge ruled against that, a decision that a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Monday on a 3-0 vote. The latest ruling has implications for the Georgia election interference trials of Trump and others, Politico reports, though Meadows could appeal again—to the full court or the Supreme Court.

He won't find much encouragement in the 36-page opinion. Chief Circuit Judge William Pryor didn't buy Meadows' argument that almost everything he did, including campaign activities, was part of his official White House duties. "We cannot rubberstamp Meadows' legal opinion that the president's chief of staff has unfettered authority," wrote Pryor, who was appointed by President George W. Bush. The judge added, per the New York Times, "Whatever the chief of staff's role with respect to state election administration, that role does not include altering valid election results in favor of a particular candidate."

A move to federal court for Meadows could have led to major delays or even dismissal in the trials of other defendants, including Trump. A statute allows trials of federal officials to be switched to federal court, but Pryor wrote that the law "does not apply to former officers," per CBS News. The other two judges on the panel, however, both Democratic appointees, called on Congress to change the law to permit officials no longer in office to have their trials moved. An attorney for Meadows did not immediately comment on whether he'll appeal. (More Mark Meadows stories.)

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