Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis will release the first details of her sprawling anti-fraud case against former President Donald Trump, his White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and 17 co-defendants in a federal court hearing Monday morning.
This is the first time key arguments have been made in court on the four criminal cases brought against Trump this year.
The subject of the hearing, which will begin at 10 a.m., is Meadows’ motion to move his case to federal court and have it thrown out, but it’s more than that — it could serve as a mini-trial. The future of Fulton County’s case against former President
Willis is expected to preview the lawsuit he plans to bring against 19 co-defendants, pressuring Georgia election officials to get into the public record some evidence and legal arguments about why Trump and his allies broke the law. 2020 Results.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger, who received a call from Trump in January 2021 to “find” the votes that would reverse his loss, has been subpoenaed to testify, along with an investigator in his office and two lawyers who attended the call. .
Here’s what to look for:
Meadows is one of several defendants who have filed to transfer their cases from Georgia state court to federal court, and Trump is expected to file a similar motion.
Several other defendants who filed similar takedown notices, including former Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shaffer and Kathy Latham, who served as fraudulent voters, argued that they were acting on Trump’s instructions.
Meadows argues that the charges against him in Georgia should be dismissed under a federal immunity claim that is extended in certain circumstances to individuals prosecuted or sued for conduct allegedly committed on behalf of the U.S. government or tied to their federal position. .
Even though she faces an uphill battle to move her case forward, Meadows remains “unique” in Willis’ case, said Steve Vladek, a CNN analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.
“People should be wary that this is a bellwether,” Vladek said, instead describing the dispute as “an opening salvo in a long and complicated procedural battle.”
If U.S. District Judge Steve Jones moves Meadows’ or another defendant’s claim to federal court, it will not ultimately kill Willis’ case.
For one thing, it’s unclear whether Meadows’ co-defendants will join him in federal court, and even if the judge accepts Meadows’ claim that his case should go to federal court, that doesn’t mean Jones will buy Meadows out. Arguments to dismiss the charges against him.
For example, in Trump’s New York case, where he was charged by the Manhattan district attorney with 34 counts of false business records, a federal judge rejected the former president’s bid to transfer the case to federal court.
U.S. law allows defendants in state civil cases or criminal cases to move those actions to federal court if they face charges based on conduct they engaged in “under color” of the federal government.
While such actions are not uncommon in civil cases against current and former federal officials, they are extremely rare in criminal cases, legal experts told CNN, meaning Jones could be moving into uncertain legal territory.
“It’s a very rare case where there’s not a lot of law,” Vladek said.
Meadows argues that a federal court should dismiss the charges against him under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution because the conduct underlying the allegations was conducted as part of his duties as a close White House adviser to Trump.
“Had Mr. Meadows not attended Oval Office meetings or refused to arrange meetings or calls between the president and heads of government, it would have impaired his ability to provide the intimate and confidential advice a chief of staff must provide.” Meadows’ attorneys wrote in a court filing.
Beyond Meadows’ participation in the Raffensperger call, Willis reportedly asked a White House official about his surprise visit to the Atlanta election audit and how Meadows and Trump compiled a memo. To disrupt the January 6, 2021 election certification vote in Congress.
“In order to overturn, Meadows would have to convince the court that he is not representing Donald Trump’s personal interests when he knocks on the door of impeachment,” said Lee Kowarsky, a University of Texas law professor and expert on impeachment law. .
In his response to Meadows’ filings, Willis relied on a federal law known as the Hatch Act, which prevents government officials from using their federal office to engage in political activities, including campaign-related conduct. He argues that Meadows was involved in a pressure campaign against Georgia election officials, which he is not allowed to do as a federal official, and therefore is not entitled to federal immunity.
The Hatch Act framing was “a good way to explain that he was acting outside the scope of his official duties,” Kowarsky said, adding that Willis did not have to prove that Meadows violated federal law to win the argument.
Willis’ posts in the dispute seem like a shot across the bow at Trump and any attempt he might make with similar claims.
“An assessment of the actions named in the indictment makes it clear that they were all intended to ‘interfere with or affect’ the presidential election in Georgia and elsewhere in a way that would somehow transform Mr. Trump from an unsuccessful candidate to a successful one.” The district collector’s office said. “Proceedings are precisely the type that other courts have already determined to be “unofficial,” and therefore beyond color of the defendant’s office.”
Key witnesses may take the stand
Jones, a Barack Obama appointee, has shown he wants to avoid a circus, while not giving short shrift to Meadows’ arguments, Vladek said. By strictly following the orders already passed by the judge, relevant laws and case law, he has effectively moved the proceedings.
Vladek said the judge “includes by the book, quickly and calmly.”
Still, the trial could feature some revealing moments, as Willis appears to be preparing to put several witnesses on the stand for a pressure campaign that Trump and Meadows are accused of soliciting to Georgia election officials.
In addition to Raffensberger, Willis subpoenaed Francis Watson, the chief investigator in the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. According to the grand jury indictment, Meadows arranged a call between Trump and Watson and texted Watson to offer Trump campaign financing to expedite a ballot review in Fulton County.
Willis also subpoenaed the two attorneys who were on the Trump-Raffensberger phone call on Trump’s behalf: Kurt Hilbert and Alex Kaufman.
“The central question is: Were Meadows and Trump acting in the context of their federal positions, or were they candidates for office or campaign workers operating in the state of Georgia?” CNN legal analyst and former Justice Department official Elliott Williams said. “Raffensberger would come to testify and say, ‘I think maybe these people are acting on behalf of the campaign, not the presidency.'”