Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows unexpectedly took the stand in Atlanta on Monday as he argued his charges in the Georgia election case should be moved to federal court, according to court filings.
Meadows is attempting to move his charges from state court to federal court so he can assert immunity and get the counts dismissed.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones did not make a ruling at the hearing and will issue one in writing at a later time, according to multiple reports.
The proceeding was the first substantive hearing in Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis’s (D) criminal case against former President Trump and 18 others over their alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Meadows faces two counts.
Willis brought in Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), whom Trump urged to help “find 11,780 votes” on an infamous Jan. 2021 phone call, to testify at Monday’s hearing, according to court filings. Meadows was on the call.
Court documents also show that Georgia-based attorney Kurt Hilbert, who was also on the call and is not charged in the case, testified.
To switch courts, Meadows must convince the judge he was a federal officer, the allegations relate to an act taken “under color of such office” and he has a plausible federal defense.
“I don’t know that I did anything that was outside my scope as chief of staff,” Meadows testified, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
But when Raffensperger took the stand, he described the infamous conversation as a “campaign call,” CNN reported.
“Outreach to this extent was extraordinary,” Raffensperger said, according to the cable outlet.
Meadows is the first of five of the co-defendants in the case so far to file to move their charges.
Jones is also assigned to hear the others’ requests. He has scheduled hearings for two of them on Sept. 18 but has not yet acted on the other two co-defendants’ requests.
Meadows reportedly disputed multiple factual points contained in the indictment at Wednesday’s hearing.
He is alleged to have participated in a White House meeting with Trump and Pennsylvania state lawmakers after the election, but Meadows said he only showed up to inform three of the lawmakers they had tested positive for COVID-19 and had to leave, according to The Washington Post.