Meadows, Clark fight to stave off arrest in Georgia

Meadows, Clark fight to stave off arrest in Georgia

Mark Meadows is urging a federal judge to step in before Georgia prosecutors arrest him this week on charges that he conspired with Donald Trump to subvert the 2020 election.

The former Trump White House chief of staff is racing to move the state criminal case into federal court and ultimately have the charges dismissed. He says the charges against him in Georgia stem from his work as Trump’s chief of staff, a federal role that should make him immune to the local charges.

“Absent this Court’s intervention, Mr. Meadows will be denied the protection from arrest that federal law affords former federal officials,” Meadows’ attorneys wrote to U.S. District Court Judge Steven Jones, who is weighing Meadows’ urgent request to transfer the sprawling racketeering case to federal court.

Meadows’ urgency was sparked by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ rejection of his request to delay his arrest until Jones has a chance to make a ruling, expected next week.

“I am not granting any extensions,” Willis wrote in an email to Meadows’ attorneys Tuesday morning. “I gave 2 weeks for people to surrender themselves to the court. Your client is no different than any other criminal defendant in this jurisdiction. The two weeks was a tremendous courtesy.”

“At 12:30 pm on Friday I shall file warrants in the system,” Willis added.

Willis’ firm deadline puts Meadows in a race against the clock. He has urged Jones to quickly determine that he is immune from the Georgia prosecution by virtue of his federal role. Jones quickly agreed to hold a hearing on the matter, setting an evidentiary session for Aug. 28. Meadows indicated in his Tuesday court filing that Willis refused to delay the timeline to accommodate the federal hearing.

He’s not the only one of Trump’s 18 co-defendants seeking Jones’ urgent protection. Former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark has similarly asked Jones to prohibit Willis from arresting him by Friday, contending that his role in Trump’s administration should also make him immune from the state-level charges. He has filed a motion for an emergency stay from Jones, who is also handling a related third effort by former Georgia GOP Chair David Shafer.

Trump himself has yet to try to remove his case to federal court, but he’s widely expected to pursue the gambit as well.

At the heart of Meadows’ plea is the long-standing legal principle that state courts have no ability to interfere with federal officials carrying out their official duties. Courts typically take a deferential view to current and former federal officials who seek to remove local cases to federal court, so long as they can plausibly argue that the actions in question were related to their official duties.

Meadows and Clark argue that the charges against them in Georgia were purely rooted in their Trump administration roles. Meadows arranged phone calls and meetings for Trump with officials in Georgia about the 2020 election results, and he visited Georgia after the election to review audit proceedings as they were underway. Clark drafted a letter to the states that would have advised them to convene their legislatures to consider appointing alternate slates of presidential electors — part of an effort by Trump to deploy the Justice Department in service of his bid to stay in power. The letter, however, was never sent amid resistance from top Justice Department and White House attorneys.

Both men face charges that they entered into a racketeering conspiracy with Trump premised on subverting the 2020 election — a goal that could not be construed as part of their official responsibilities. Jones has asked Willis to respond to Clark’s and Meadows’ efforts by Wednesday afternoon, and her filing should lay bare her rationale for bringing charges against the high-ranking Trump administration officials.

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