Fani Willis is all warmed up, the “The Internationale” has been sung, and Mark Meadows is leading off for the Trump MAGAS. He digs in, Willis goes into her windup, and here comes the pitch. Meadows swings and there is no doubt about it, it’s gone. Meadows becomes the first defendant to file for Removal. What that does is takes the indictments out of the state court and moves it to the federal court system.
With a biased DA and an equally biased jury, anything could happen. By moving his case to the federal court system, where you actually have to prove guilt to get a conviction. In fact, President Trumps lawyers will probably follow suit, which would move all of the cases to the federal court. This will rob Willis of a grandstand play she has been using to raise campaign cash. Well, not entirely. When the 18 defendants win their cases, they will probably file a suit for malicious prosecution. That should be an open and shut case.
Trump’s former chief of staff filed a motion yesterday to stop any proceedings currently under way in Georgia’s state courts and applied for removal:
“Nothing Mr. Meadows is alleged in the indictment to have done is criminal per se: arranging Oval Office meetings, contacting state officials on the President’s behalf, visiting a state government building, and setting up a phone call for the President,” Terwilliger wrote in a 14-page filing with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on Tuesday evening, saying these are expected from his role.
Meadows met with Georgia secretary of state chief investigator Frances Watson in Cobb County to discuss an ongoing audit of signature matches, according to the 98-page indictment. He was charged under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in the 41-count indictment.
“This is precisely the kind of state interference in a federal official’s duties that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits, and that the removal statute shields against,” Terwilliger wrote, saying the law states he wouldn’t be liable to answer in a state court.
The removal statute (28 USC 1442) offers this as an option for federal officers sued or indicted in state courts for actions taken as part of their official duties:
(a)A civil action or criminal prosecution that is commenced in a State court and that is against or directed to any of the following may be removed by them to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place wherein it is pending:
(1)The United States or any agency thereof or any officer (or any person acting under that officer) of the United States or of any agency thereof, in an official or individual capacity, for or relating to any act under color of such office or on account of any right, title or authority claimed under any Act of Congress for the apprehension or punishment of criminals or the collection of the revenue.
As William Jacobson wrote last night, though, it won’t apply easily to Trump, and it won’t to anyone else at all:
Trump may have a more difficult time removing the case since he was a political candidate and his conduct was not as president. But as the Meadows Notice demonstrates, there is a fairly low bar to removal and any “plausible” claim that the conduct charged was in the context of an official federal capacity should suffice. Other defendants who were not serving in any federal capacity at the time would not be able to invoke the statute.