- Several of former President Donald Trump’s co-defendants in his Georgia indictment have filed motions to remove their cases to federal court, and the former president may soon do the same.
- Removing the case to federal court would provide access to a different judge and jury, providing some distance from Fulton County politics, legal experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- “If he wants to remove the case, he almost certainly will be successful in doing so, even if the Fulton County prosecutor claims Trump’s crimes were committed as a candidate, not as President,” Cornell Law School Professor William A. Jacobson told the DCNF.
Former President Donald Trump could follow the co-defendants in his case who have sought to remove their Georgia charges to federal court, a move that legal experts explained would create some distance from Fulton County politics.
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Justice Department official Jeff Clark and former Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer, all indicted in District Attorney Fani Willis’ probe into Trump’s alleged interference in the 2020 election in Georgia, are among the defendants who have filed motions to remove their cases to federal court. Trump may soon seek to make a similar move, which would provide access to a different judge and jury, legal experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The federal judge might be a judge named to be the bench by President Trump, or at least by another Republican President,” Emory University School of Law Professor Jonathan Nash told the DCNF. “Trump and his lawyer might think that would be beneficial, and that surely wouldn’t be the case in state court.”
“More importantly, a federal court would feature a different, larger jury pool: The state court jury would be drawn entirely from Fulton County, whereas the jury for a federal court trial would be drawn from ten counties in the Atlanta Division of the Northern District of Georgia,” he explained, noting that this would include jurors from counties with vote totals that were more favorable to the former president during the past two elections.
Cornell Law School Professor William A. Jacobson similarly noted the move would “add some distance from Fulton county politics.”
Meadows’ lawyers argue in his filing that the charges he was indicted for all “occurred during his tenure and as part of his service as Chief of Staff.” They cite a law that allows criminal prosecutions commenced in state court against a federal official operating “under color of [his] office” to be removed to a federal district court.
“Nothing Mr. Meadows is alleged in the indictment to have done is criminal per se: arranging Oval Office meetings, contacting state officials on the President’s behalf, visiting a state government building, and setting up a phone call for the President,” Meadows’ lawyers wrote in an Aug. 15 court filing. “One would expect a Chief of Staff to the President of the United States to do these sorts of things. And they have far less to do with the interests of state law than, for example, murder charges that have been successfully removed.”
In a Friday filing, Meadows’ lawyers countered the prosecutors’ claim that his actions were outside the scope of his official duties, writing that he “did not stop assisting the President just because the President was doing something personal or political.”
Trump could assert similar immunity from state prosecution on the grounds that the actions were taken while in federal office, Jacobson said, adding that he anticipates such an effort would likely be successful.
“If he wants to remove the case, he almost certainly will be successful in doing so, even if the Fulton County prosecutor claims Trump’s crimes were committed as a candidate, not as President,” Jacobson told the DCNF. “The fact is that almost all of the actions taken were while he was President, and that should be enough to remove the case to federal court.”
Former Trump attorney and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani signaled on his radio show that he also may make the move, arguing that the law Meadows cited in his notice provides “almost an automatic removal,” according to CNN.
“As a person acting as (Trump’s) agent – that’s what a lawyer is, his agent – I have a right to remove it to federal court,” Giuliani said, per CNN.
Another defendant, Kenneth Chesebro, chose instead to file a demand for a speedy trial in state court, leading Willis to propose an Oct. 23 start date. Trump quickly moved to sever his case from Chesebro’s on Thursday, and the judge later approved the October date for Chesebro’s trial.
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