Mark Meadows Asks Federal Judge To Sign His 'Get Out Of RICO Free' Card

Peace out, suckers!

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany Briefs Media At White House

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mark Meadows has no criminal record, and he’d like to keep it that way.

Unlike his pals Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, he managed to blow off Congress without getting cited for contempt. He managed to avoid getting charged with vote fraud, despite being registered to vote at a vacation rental he never lived in. And he wasn’t named as an unindicted co-conspirator in Donald Trump’s federal indictment for election interference, despite the central role the chief of staff played in organizing both the fake electors scheme and the riot itself.

But last week, Meadows’s luck ran out, when Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis charged him with violating Georgia’s RICO act and soliciting a public officer to violate his oath.

Unlike his former boss, who spent the past week screeching into the ether about “PHONEY FANI WILLIS,”  and the “perfect perfect phone call,” Meadows and his lawyers immediately sprung into action. Within 24 hours, they filed a motion to remove the case to federal court, alleging that the conduct at issue was part of his official government duties.

Meadows’s argument for removal is marginally more credible than Trump’s failed attempt to transfer his New York state indictment to federal court because his presidency was a but-for cause of the Stormy Daniels hush money payment, and thus creating false business records to reimburse Michael Cohen for it were part of his official duties. But Meadows’s claim rests on the theory that he was just doing his job when he offered campaign cash to Georgia officials to help them conduct the signature verification faster, which is also … problematic.

Meadows followed up with a motion to dismiss the Georgia case entirely, claiming immunity from state prosecution under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.


“Information-gathering and providing close and confidential advice to the President” is the chief of staff’s job, he argued, adding that his “federal position was a but-for cause of his alleged involvement” in the scheme to steal the state’s 16 electors for Donald Trump. This argument rests on the implicit assumption that the president has a duty to ensure the lawful administration of state elections by pressuring the secretary of state to “find 11,780 votes” — something the DA is sure to contest.

Meadows also undercuts his position somewhat by arguing in the alternative that the case must be dismissed because the conversation with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (two months after the election!) was campaign activity, and thus protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments:

A candidate for public office does not cease to be a political candidate when the polls close on election day. Rather, the right to “vigorously and tirelessly” advocate for one’s own election continues beyond that time.  Nor is it unlawful to petition for redress pursuant to political or legal process when the results of an election remain undetermined. All the substantive allegations in the Indictment concern unquestionably political activity and thus, if not covered by Supremacy Clause immunity, the charges would be barred by the First Amendment.

Except, if the alleged conduct is “unquestionably political activity,” then it is definitionally not part of Meadows’s official duties and cannot form the basis of a removal to federal court.

The case was assigned to Judge Steven Jones, an Obama appointee, who declined to issue summary remand and set the case for hearing on August 28.


In the meantime, Meadows filed a notice on Friday indicating that his lawyers had spoken with another party named in the state indictment who has “informed the Court by email that he intends to file a forthcoming notice of removal and suggested that this Court possibly postpone the August 28, 2023, hearing date.” Meadows opposes any delay of the August 28 hearing.

Assuming that this isn’t an extremely creative Kraken play, this can only be a reference to former Justice Department lawyer Jeff Clark or Trump himself, since they are the only other former federal officials charged in the Georgia case. Safe money is on Clark, not just because he’s exactly the guy you’d expect to have his lawyers email the clerk of a case in which he’s not a party and make an ex parte demand for a postponement. Also, if the movant was Trump, Meadows would almost certainly go along with it rather than risk getting crosswise in MAGA world.

Fulton County prosecutors have until Wednesday to respond to Meadows’s removal plea.

State of Georgia v. Meadows [Docket via Court Listener]

Elizabeth Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics and appears on the Opening Arguments podcast.