Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows testified on Monday, refuting two allegations brought against him in a Georgia indictment that accuses him of participating in a scheme to overturn the 2020 election results.
Meadows, who was charged alongside former President Donald Trump and 17 others earlier this month, appeared in court to challenge the charges at the federal level rather than the state level. As part of his defense, he asserted that he never requested White House personnel officer John McEntee to draft a memo for Vice President Mike Pence on delaying the certification of the election.
Meadows stated, “When I saw this in the indictment, it was genuinely surprising to me.” He further emphasized, “I never asked Johnny McEntee for such a memo.”
He also refuted another claim from the indictment, denying that he texted Frances Watson, chief investigator for the Georgia secretary of state’s office, as alleged. Instead, he indicated that he believed the text was sent to Jordan Fuchs, the secretary of state’s chief of staff.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, using Georgia’s racketeering law, is asserting that Trump, Meadows, and others engaged in a comprehensive conspiracy to retain power following Trump’s loss to Joe Biden. Willis contends that Meadows’ actions were politically motivated and not performed in the capacity of his official duties.
Meadows’ testimony came while two of Trump’s former attorneys observed in the courtroom. This hearing in Georgia pertained to just one of the four criminal cases Trump is currently facing. Separately, a federal judge presiding over a case in Washington involving allegations of Trump’s attempts to unlawfully alter the 2020 election results set a trial date for March 4, 2024, coinciding with the heart of the presidential primary season.
Meadows’ legal team is arguing that the actions cited in the indictment “all occurred during his tenure and as part of his service as Chief of Staff.” They assert that Meadows committed no criminal acts and advocate for the dismissal of the charges against him. They also aim to transfer the case to federal court to halt state-level proceedings.
The judge’s decision regarding the case’s venue remains pending.
During the hearing, Meadows’ attorney, George J. Terwilliger III, promptly called his client to the stand to discuss his role as Trump’s chief of staff. The attorney then reviewed the acts specified in the indictment, inquiring whether Meadows had undertaken them in his official capacity. For most of the listed actions, Meadows confirmed his involvement as part of his official duties.
In cross-examination, prosecutor Anna Cross revisited the same acts, asking Meadows about the federal policies advanced through each one. While Meadows frequently responded that the federal interest pertained to ensuring accurate and equitable elections, Cross accused him of evading her questions on multiple occasions.
Willis’ legal team contends that the actions cited were solely geared towards maintaining Trump’s presidency. They argue that these actions were overtly political and violated the Hatch Act, which limits partisan political activity by federal employees. They advocate for the case to remain in Fulton County Superior Court.
Among the allegations against Meadows are his participation in meetings or communications with state lawmakers alongside Trump and others, meant to advance the purported scheme to keep Trump in power. The accusations also involve Meadows’ presence in Atlanta suburbs during a ballot envelope signature audit, arranging a call between Trump and a Georgia secretary of state investigator, and participating in a phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January 2021, during which Trump suggested finding additional votes to secure victory.
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