Donald Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows can’t avoid being arrested in the Georgia criminal case over the 2020 presidential election if he fails to turn himself in by midday Friday, a federal judge ruled.
(Bloomberg) — Donald Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows can’t avoid being arrested in the Georgia criminal case over the 2020 presidential election if he fails to turn himself in by midday Friday, a federal judge ruled.
The decision Wednesday evening in Atlanta is a major setback for Meadows, who had filed an emergency request on Tuesday to block Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from seeking his arrest if he doesn’t surrender. Willis had argued that Meadows should be treated just like any other defendant in the case, including Trump, who has said he’ll turn himself on Thursday.
Meadows had argued that he can’t be arrested by state authorities while he is fighting to have the case moved to federal court from state court. But US District Judge Steve C. Jones said in his ruling that state criminal cases must be allowed to proceed while a defendant seeks such a transfer.
Jones, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, didn’t weigh in on Meadows’s broader argument that he’s immune from the state charges because he was an employee of the federal government during the alleged misconduct. A hearing on that argument is set for Aug. 28 in Atlanta.
“The court has made no determinations at this time about the viability of Meadows’s defense,” Jones wrote in a footnote.
Meadows is one of 19 individuals — including Trump — who were charged last week with conspiracy to overturn Trump’s election loss in 2020. It’s Trump’s fourth criminal case this year as he campaigns to return to the White House in 2024. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former lawyer, surrendered earlier Wednesday.
Willis, in a court filing earlier on Wednesday, had pushed back against Meadows’s claim that the arrest would cause him hardship.
“The hardship facing the defendant is no different than any other criminal defendant charged with a crime, including his co-defendants,” Willis, who investigated the group for more than two years, said in the filing.
Even with his loss on the question of arrest, Meadows’s argument about immunity has emerged as the biggest challenge so far to the Georgia indictment. The same judge on Wednesday denied a request by another defendant — former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark — to put his case on hold while he tries to move it to federal court, ruling there had been “no trigger” for such a stay.
The case is The State of Georgia v. Meadows, 23-cv-3621, US District Court, Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta).
(Updates with detail on the ruling.)
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