Judge Denies Mark Meadows’s Request to Move Georgia Case to Federal Court

“Meadows had the strongest of the removal cases,” said Norman Eisen, who was special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during Mr. Trump’s first impeachment. “If Meadows has failed, then there’s little hope for Clark, or for that matter Trump,” he added, referring to Jeffrey Clark, a defendant and former Justice Department official who has also filed to move his case to federal court.

In a filing this week, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Steven H. Sadow, notified the presiding Fulton County Superior Court judge, Scott McAfee, that Mr. Trump might seek to move his case; he has until the end of the month to decide.

A key issue for Judge Jones was whether Mr. Meadows’s actions, as described in the 98-page indictment, could be considered within the scope of his job duties as White House chief of staff, which would qualify his case for removal under federal law. Removal is a longstanding legal tradition meant to protect federal officials from state-level prosecution that could impede them from conducting federal business; it is rooted in the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which makes federal law “supreme” over contrary state laws.

In the hearing on Mr. Meadows’s request, Fulton County prosecutors argued that he had overstepped the bounds of his chief-of-staff duties by acting as a de facto agent of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign. They noted that he had arranged and participated in the now-famous Jan. 2, 2021, call between Mr. Trump and Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, in which Mr. Trump said he wanted to “find” roughly 12,000 votes, enough to reverse his election loss in the state.

The prosecutors said that with such actions, Mr. Meadows had violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities while they are on the job. Among the examples they noted was a text message that Mr. Meadows sent on Dec. 27, 2020, to an official in Mr. Raffensperger’s office, in which he offered financial assistance from the “Trump campaign” for a ballot verification effort.