The indictment against Donald Trump in Fulton County faces a major test on Monday


Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis will set out the first details of her wide-ranging anticrime case against former President Donald Trump, his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and 17 other co-defendants at a federal court hearing Monday.

This will be the first time substantive arguments have been made in court regarding the four criminal cases filed against Trump this year.

The hearing covers Meadows’ motion to have his case moved to federal court and possibly have it dismissed, but there’s a lot more at stake than that — it could end up acting like a mini-trial over the future of Fulton’s case County rules against him former president.

Willis is expected to preview the case she plans to bring against the 19 co-defendants, while publicizing some of her evidence and legal arguments as to why Trump and his allies broke the law when they targeted election officials Pressured Georgia to interfere in the 2020 election results.

Georgian Foreign Minister Brad Raffensperger, who received Trump’s call in January 2021 to “find” the votes that would reverse his loss, was arrested along with an investigator in his office and two other lawyers who were present at the call. summoned to testify.

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Meadows is one of several defendants who have petitioned to move their cases from Georgia state court to federal court, and Trump is expected to file a similar motion.

Several defendants who filed similar removal orders, including former Georgia Republican Party leader David Shafer and Cathy Latham, who acted as a sham voter, have argued they acted on Trump’s direction.

Meadows argues that the charges against him in Georgia should be dismissed on the basis of a federal immunity claim, which in certain contexts extends to individuals criminally charged for alleged conduct committed on behalf of the US government or related to its federal position be prosecuted or sued.

While it may still be an uphill battle for him to advance his case, Meadows is “unique” in the Willis case, said Steve Vladeck, a CNN analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

“People should be wary that this is a determining factor,” Vladeck said, instead describing the dispute as an “opening salvo in a long and complicated series of procedural disputes.”

If US District Judge Steve Jones grants a motion by Meadows or another defendant to have the arraignment transferred to federal court, that does not mean that Willis’s case is ultimately doomed.

For one thing, it’s not clear whether Meadows’ co-defendants would join him in the federal forum, and even if the judge accepts Meadows’ claim that his case should go to federal court, that doesn’t mean Jones will buy Meadows’ argument . Arguments that the charges against him should be dismissed.

For example, in Trump’s New York case, in which he was indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney on 34 counts of falsifying business records, a federal judge denied the former president’s motion to move the case to federal court.

Under US law, defendants in a state civil or criminal proceeding may attempt to bring those proceedings before federal court if those defendants are charged with conduct they committed “under cover” of the federal government.

While such trials are not uncommon in civil lawsuits against current and former federal officials, they are extremely rare in criminal cases, legal experts told CNN, meaning Jones will be treading on shaky legal ground.

“It’s just the rare case that there just aren’t a lot of laws,” Vladeck said.

Meadows argues that under the Constitution’s supremacy clause, the federal court should dismiss the charges against him because the conduct underlying the charges was committed in the course of his duties as a close adviser to Trump in the White House.

“If Mr. Meadows had stayed away from Oval Office meetings or refused to arrange meetings or telephone conversations between the President and government leaders, it would have compromised his ability to provide the accurate and confidential advice that a chief of staff should.” Lawyers for Meadows wrote in a court filing.

In addition to Meadows’ involvement in the Raffensperger call, Willis has also highlighted his surprise visit to an Atlanta election review as suspected acts in the conspiracy and a request Meadows and Trump made to a White House official for a memo about it create how to disrupt the January 6, 2021 congressional confirmation vote.

“To prevail, Meadows must convince the court that he was not representing Donald Trump’s private interests when he knocked on the exam door,” said Lee Kovarsky, a University of Texas law professor and impeachment law expert.

Willis bases her response on Meadows’ filing on a federal law called the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials from using their federal office for political activities, including campaign-oriented conduct. She argues that Meadows’ involvement in the campaign against Georgia election officials is clearly behavior that he is not entitled to engage in as a federal official and is therefore not entitled to the protection of federal immunity.

The Hatch Act’s wording is “a nice way to illustrate that he acted outside of his official duties,” Kovarsky said, adding that Willis does not have to prove that Meadows broke federal law in order to succeed in the dispute.

Willis’s submissions in the dispute also appear to smack Trump and any attempts he might make with similar claims.

“An evaluation of the acts cited in the indictment makes it clear that they were all aimed at ‘interfering with or influencing’ the presidential election in Georgia and elsewhere in order to somehow transform Mr. Trump from an unsuccessful candidate into a successful one,” prosecutors said with. “These are precisely the types of activities that other courts have already classified as ‘unofficial’ and therefore outside the purview of the defendant’s office.”

Key witnesses may comment

Jones, a candidate appointed by Barack Obama, has shown he wants to avoid a circus while not underestimating Meadows’ arguments, Vladeck said. The orders already issued by the judge closely followed the relevant laws and jurisprudence, and he efficiently advanced the proceedings.

The judge is “following the rules, which is done quickly and calmly,” Vladeck said.

Still, the hearing could contain some revealing moments, as Willis appears to be preparing to bring several campaign witnesses accused of Trump and Meadows to the witness stand with Georgia election officials.

In addition to Raffensperger, Willis subpoenaed Frances Watson, who was a senior investigator at the Georgia State Department. According to the grand jury indictment, Meadows arranged a phone call between Trump and Watson and texted Watson himself to offer Trump campaign funding to expedite a vote review in Fulton County.

Willis also subpoenaed two attorneys who participated in the phone call between Trump and Raffensperger on Trump’s behalf: Kurt Hilbert and Alex Kaufman.

“The central question is: Were Meadows and Trump acting in the context of … their federal offices, or were they just candidates for office or campaign staff operating in the state of Georgia?” said Elliot Williams, a CNN legal analyst and former Justice Department official. “Raffensperger will come to testify, ‘Maybe I actually believe these people acted on behalf of the campaign, not the presidency.'”


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Jennifer Adams

Dedicated news writer with a passion for truth and accuracy. Covering stories that impact lives.

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