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Mark Meadows 'could be convicted and incarcerated' in Ga. election case before his federal appeal is heard, lawyers warn

The former White House chief of staff's lawyers made the claim while pleading with a judge to pause an order denying Meadow's request to move the case to federal court.
Mark Meadows at the White House
Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows asked a judge to halt his decision denying his bid to move the charges against him in the Georgia election interference case to federal court. Chris Kleponis / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows wants a judge to pause his ruling denying his bid to move the Georgia election interference charges against him to federal court, saying he's concerned he could be "convicted and incarcerated" before his appeal of the decision could be heard.

Attorneys for Meadows made the argument in a filing Monday to U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones, who had denied his arguments that the case should be moved to federal court and that he should have immunity from prosecution because he was acting in his federal capacity at the time of the actions he is accused of.

In their filing, Meadows' attorneys said they would submit an expedited appeal later Monday but asked him to issue a stay of his order while they do so because "there is a substantial risk Mr. Meadows will be irreparably injured" if he doesn't.

They noted that, for the moment at least, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee has not pushed back against prosecutors' plan to move forward as soon as possible with their sprawling criminal case against Meadows, former President Donald Trump and 17 other people accused of trying to illegally change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.

Meadows' lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Monday night, Meadows filed an emergency motion with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seeking an expedited review of his appeal before the end of the month or "an injunction against state prosecution pending appeal."

Two other defendants, former Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, have requested speedy trials and are scheduled to stand trial Oct. 23. McAfee has not yet ruled on whether the other co-defendants will join them, but he has said he is "very skeptical" of the prosecutors' schedule.

"The state court held a hearing last Thursday on related issues, but to date, has not rejected the State’s aggressive timeline," Meadows' filing said. "At a minimum, the Court should stay the remand order to protect Meadows from a conviction pending appeal. Absent a stay, the State will continue seeking to try Meadows 42 days from now on October 23, 2023. If the State gets its way, Meadows could be forced to go to trial — and could be convicted and incarcerated — before the standard timeline for a federal appeal would play out."

The filing contends the "irreparable harm" to Meadows "has already begun."

"Meadows was compelled to surrender on Wednesday, August 24, after the District Attorney refused a modest delay of arrest pending federal removal. Meadows has since been compelled to waive arraignment, to post a bond, and to begin preparing a defense for potential state prosecution," it said.

Jones asked Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' office to respond to Meadows' motion by noon Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Willis declined to comment.

In his decision Friday, Jones found Meadows was not entitled to move the case to federal court because "the evidence before the Court overwhelmingly suggests that Meadows was not acting in his scope of executive branch duties during most of the Overt Acts alleged" in the case. He noted that prosecutors had “put forth evidence that at various points during the time of the alleged conspiracy Meadows worked with the Trump campaign, which he admitted was outside of the role of the White House Chief of Staff.”

Meadows, he added, "was required to come forward with competent proof of his factual contention that his actions involving challenges to the outcome of the Georgia’s Presidential election results were within his role as Chief of Staff. His efforts fall short.”

So far, five of the 19 defendants have moved to have their cases heard in federal court. Meadows' request was the first to be decided by the judge, who wrote that his decision “does not, at this time, have any effect on the outcome of the other co-Defendants who have filed notices of removal.”

In a court filing last week, Trump said he might request that his case be moved to federal court, as well. Under court-ordered deadlines, he has until the end of this month to decide, according to the filing.

Meadows is charged with violating Georgia’s anti-racketeering law and solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer for his involvement in Trump’s Jan. 2, 2021, call asking Georgia election officials to “find” the exact number of votes needed to defeat Joe Biden. He has pleaded not guilty to both counts.