Former Donald Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in his mugshotFULTON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE (via REUTERS)
Mark Meadows is not Donald Trump. But the hearing that is held this Monday in Georgia, in which the former White House chief of staff and co-defendant with the former US president and 17 other people requested to transfer their case to a federal court, may be key in the future. of the trial against the 19 for creating a mafia-like association to commit electoral fraud in that state in 2020 and keep the tycoon in power. The 19 are summoned for September 6 in Fulton County Superior Court to answer the charges against them.
In a very unusual step, and one that experts consider risky for him, Meadows appeared Monday in Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, to testify for almost three hours before federal judge Steve Jones and argue in favor of the transfer of the case, currently in the hands of a state court in Fulton County, to a federal one. His argument: that his participation in the acts of which he is accused occurred in his role as a government official, and therefore they are the responsibility of a federal court. It is a strategy that four other defendants in the case have already adopted, and that it is certain that Trump himself will follow sooner or later. What Jones decides could influence the steps the former president will take in this case, his fourth indictment in as many months.
Throughout his interrogation at the hands of the defense and the prosecution, Meadows has not denied that he participated in the events of which he is accused, but has insisted that he did so in the performance of his duties as chief of staff. Those months between Trump’s electoral defeat in November 2020 and the former president’s departure from the White House on January 20, 2021 were “a difficult time,” he declared, in which he was “invited to almost every meeting” that Trump celebrated the results of the elections. He attended because, he alleges, there was a “federal interest” in holding free and fair elections.
“It was part of my job to make sure that the president is safe and sound and in a condition to carry out his job,” the former senior official said. “To make it clear, what I do is serve the President of the United States.”
The advantages of having the trial held in federal court are significant for the defendants. If the argument that the alleged criminal acts were committed in the exercise of their duties as civil servants is accepted for court transfer, it is more likely that judges will rule that you enjoyed immunity and dismiss your case. And if it did go to trial, the jury would draw from a variety of Georgia counties, making it more likely that at least one party with Republican leanings would side with them. If the case were to remain in the state circuit, the trial would be held in Fulton County, which has a large Democratic majority.
Having a portion of the jury on your side, however small, is important as the verdict must be reached unanimously. If the agreement of all members is not achieved, he would be released.
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The former chief of staff had been in the federal court in Atlanta since 9 in the morning (15:00 Spanish peninsular time) to testify on his case.
Prosecutor Fani Willis, who charged the 19 on August 14, alleges to keep the case in Fulton that the alleged crimes committed had the sole purpose of keeping Trump in the White House despite having lost the elections (in Georgia, that defeat was by the minimum, by 11,779 votes) and therefore, they were actions of a political nature. The Hatch Act prohibits federal government officials from engaging in partisan politics.
Willis aspired to start the trial on March 4 of next year, but it will no longer be possible: this Monday, federal judge Tanya Chutkan set in Washington that day to begin the trial on Trump’s third indictment, on the attempts in the entire country of altering the outcome of the 2020 elections that ended up unleashing a mob assault on the Capitol. The prosecutor’s intentions to hold a speedy trial, as announced at the time of the indictment, may be further complicated by the various motions filed by various defendants, both for the transfer of the case to the federal circuit and to hold the trial as soon as possible. in some cases.
Meadows is accused of engaging in meetings and communications with state legislators to keep Trump in power; moving to counting centers outside Atlanta where a vote check was taking place; and of participating in a January 2, 2021 call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the president pressured the state official to “find” 11,780 votes, the number needed to declare victory over the Democrat. Joe Biden.
Speaking to CBS’s Face The Nation, former New Jersey governor and current Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie, a staunch Trump critic, believed the former chief of staff could succeed in his request to transfer the case. , but that will not affect the final verdict. “Whether Mark Meadows wins that motion or not is not going to make any significant difference to how a jury will have to make a decision (on guilt or not) at trial,” he pointed out.
Witnesses called to testify at Monday’s hearing included Raffensperger, former investigator for Georgia Secretary of State Frances Watson’s office and two lawyers from Trump’s Georgia team.
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