Meadows' Gambit May Backfire
Mark Meadows desperately wants his RICO case to be tried in federal court. Monday, he even
testified before U.S. District Judge Steve Jones in support of his motion to move the case to
federal court. At first glance, taking the stand is risky due to cross examination and
to have a lot of benefits, though it does have some neutral aspects. To wit:
- Even in federal court, Georgia law would still apply
- Even in federal court, Fulton County DA Fani Willis would still be the lead prosecutor
- A conviction in federal court on state charges would not be eligible for a presidential pardon
- In state court his lawyers could participate in the voir dire; in federal court the judge does it
It seems that he is taking a huge risk in order to argue that helping Trump win the election was
part of his job description—and thus immune from prosecution. However, the Hatch Act prohibits
federal employees (except the president, veep, and members of Congress) from engaging in partisan
politics on company time, so the chance of his getting the change of court is microscopic.
On the down side, Meadows' plan could
for at least five reasons, as follows.
- Article II: Jones asked Meadows what role the president has in state
elections under Article II of the Constitution. Meadows said: "I don't know enough to opine." Bad
answer. Terrible, awful, miserable answer. In reality, as the judge well knows, the president plays
no role at all in presidential elections. State law governs how the electors are chosen and state
officials carry out the state law. If the president has no role in running state elections, how
could Meadows' facilitating a call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) be part of his job of
carrying out the president's will? During cross examination, he was asked if the call was on behalf
of Trump's election campaign. He said: "I would assume that [making sure federal elections are
accurate] has a federal nexus." BEEP. WRONG. Federal officials have no role in making sure elections
are accurate. That is the job of state officials. He's O for 2 already.
- Scope of the Job: Later he was asked if doing something that solely
advanced the interests of a campaign would be within the scope of his job. He agreed with that.
BEEP. No. The Hatch Act prohibits precisely that.
- Um, What's Your Case?: Meadows was unable to make any positive
statement as to what part of his job required him to be a go-fer for the president on election
matters. The burden of proof is on him here since he wants the change. He didn't give any positive
argument at all.
- His words will come back: Everything he said Monday may be used
against him in the trial, in whichever court it happens. He finally admitted under cross examination
that there is no role for the federal government in overseeing the integrity of elections. Of the
three branches, the Executive Branch is the only one with no role. Yet he mucked around (illegally)
in the election. That is what the RICO charge says. Now he admitted it under oath.
- Future testimony: When asked about the details of what happened on
Jan. 6, Meadows said he has a poor memory. He invited the judge to ask his wife how often he
forgets to take out the trash. If he testifies at his trial, prosecutors will repeatedly bring up
the fact that he admits to having a poor memory. That will destroy anything he says to defend
It doesn't look good for Meadows, but only Jones knows how he will rule. If he rules against the
motion to move the case, the chance that it works for Donald Trump is close to zero, and exactly
zero if Jones gets that case. Trump isn't going to have a better answer to where Article II gives
the president any power over state elections. There is no answer. (V)
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