OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Former President Donald Trump formally informed the judge overseeing his Georgia election subversion case that he “may” attempt to transfer his state-level case to federal court.
The charges against Trump could be dropped by invoking immunity protections for federal officials, as Trump’s attorneys have previously stated they would try to move the case.
“President Trump hereby notifies the Court that he may seek removal of his prosecution to federal court,” his lawyer Steven Sadow said in a brief court filing. “To be timely, his notice of removal must be filed within 30 days of his arraignment.”
When Trump waived his right to an arraignment hearing and pleaded not guilty on August 31, the 30-day clock started ticking.
If Trump is successful in having the state case transferred to federal court, he could gain several advantages. If he can persuade a judge that his alleged actions in the indictment were connected to his official duties as a government official, it will give him more opportunities to have the charges dropped.
The jurors will all be residents of Fulton County, which President Joe Biden won by a margin of 47 points if the case remains in federal court. The jury pool will be chosen from a 10-county area close to Atlanta that Biden won by 32 points, a smaller but still comfortable margin if the case is transferred to federal court, CNN reported.
A number of the 19 co-defendants in the case against Trump are already trying to transfer it to federal court.
Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff, provided testimony during a hearing last week in an effort to advance the case. Later this month, additional hearings are scheduled to determine whether a federal judge will consider similar requests made by Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department employee who served under Trump and the other defendants.
The way a federal judge rules on former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ request to have his case moved out of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ jurisdiction will likely have a profound impact on a similar request made by the legal team of his former boss.
Meadows, who was indicted on racketeering and other charges by Willis, along with Trump and 17 others, filed a petition with U.S. District Judge Steve Jones this week to have his case moved out of the local court, claiming his alleged actions occurred while he was in the employ of the federal government.
If he successfully moves the case, Meadows will likely ask the federal court to dismiss the case based on immunity granted by Trump before the former president left office.
“The decision by Jones would have massive implications for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis who has staked her career and political future on prosecuting Trump and his allies for allegedly attempting to overturn the results of Georgia’s 2020 election,” noted Trending Politics.
The Hill noted further that if Meadows is successful, it will become much easier for Trump to move his case to a federal court as well.
“If Jones does permit Meadows to remove, it won’t be on the strength of Meadows’s legal argumentation. It will be because of the atmospherics of the case,” Lee Kovarsky, a law professor at the University of Texas, told The Hill.
“And because it will be because of the atmospherics of the case, it seems likely that he would also permit Trump to remove, notwithstanding the specifics of the legal argument,” Kovarsky noted further.
The Hill added:
Meadows and his 18 co-defendants are charged with racketeering, which enabled prosecutors to weave together an alleged months-long conspiracy to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election result to help keep Trump in power.
Prosecutors outlined 161 acts they say are part of the conspiracy, and Meadows is mentioned in eight. The list includes meetings with state legislators, Meadows’s attempt to observe a signature match audit during a Georgia trip, and calls he set up between state election officials and Trump.
Meadows has disputed the substance of some of the allegations.
Regarding one of those calls, during which Trump reportedly asked Georgia’s top election official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” the former chief of staff also has been charged with soliciting a public officer to violate their oath, The Hill added.
While Jones, a Barack Obama appointee, considers the case, he has already indicated that at least some, but not all, allegations against Meadows would likely qualify for removal to federal court, leaving Meadows’ legal team and Fulton County prosecutors battling over whether it’s enough to switch jurisdictions.