Mark Meadows’ bid to move Georgia election interference case dealt another blow

Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff, has seen his request that the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit consider his plea to have the Georgia election interference case against him moved to federal court turned down.

Mr Meadows put in a request in January for an en banc hearing on his bid to shift his case from state court to federal court, after his initial request was rejected by a three-judge panel led by Chief Judge William Pryor in December, but that too has now been denied.

The former North Carolina congressman is facing two charges as part of the case brought by Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis accusing him and 18 co-defendants, including Mr Trump, of attempting to unlawfully overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the crucial swing state in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.

He has pleaded not guilty to both charges but four of his original co-defendants – including Trump-allied attorneys Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell – have reached plea deals with prosecutors.

Judge Pryor’s panel denied Mr Meadows’ initial request for the move before Christmas on the basis that the racketeering conduct with which his criminal indictment is concerned stands apart from the duties he carried out for the then-president in the West Wing.

The defendant’s next move is likely to be to attempt to elevate the matter to the US Supreme Court, although that body is already busy handling his former employer’s filings on presidential immunity and the decision to strike him from ballot papers in Colorado and Maine in accordance with an insurrectionist prohibition stipulated by Section Three of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Perhaps with this eventuality in mind, Mr Meadows moved last month to bolster his legal team, drafting in Paul Clement, a former US solicitor general under George W Bush, as well as appellate advocate Erin Murphy and associate Zachary Lustbader.

Mr Meadows’ strategy is centred around the hope that a federal court would be more inclined to dismiss the charges against him on federal immunity grounds, designed to protect officials prosecuted over matters arising from their work in the service of the US government.

Ms Willis has opposed the move, however, given that the tactic’s success could imperil her prosecution of Mr Meadows and his co-defendants, broaden the pool of potential jurors by taking the trial to an area less dense with Democrats than northern Georgia and end its prospect of being televised.

However, the district attorney herself could yet be disqualified from pursuing the racketeering case as lawyers for the defendants continue to allege that she is guilty of a conflict of interest, having appointed an attorney to her team, Nathan Wade, with whom she was involved romantically.

They are currently attempting to prove Ms Willis profited financially by hiring Mr Wade in sideshow hearings that have the potential to jeopardise the entire prosecution.