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Mark Meadows and Jeffrey Clark can’t avoid arrest in Georgia election subversion case, judge rules

<i>Patrick Semansky/AP</i><br/>White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters outside the White House on October 26
Patrick Semansky/AP
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters outside the White House on October 26

By Tierney Sneed, CNN

(CNN) — A federal judge on Wednesday rejected efforts by former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and ex-Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark to avoid arrest if they fail to turn themselves in by Friday’s deadline in the Georgia election subversion case.

US District Judge Steve Jones declined the emergency requests by Meadows and Clark, who are both trying to move Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ prosecution to federal court.

Meadows argued he should be allowed to avoid processing in the Fulton County election subversion case that has been brought against former President Donald Trump and 18 others ahead of a hearing scheduled Monday.

“(T)he clear statutory language for removing a criminal prosecution, does not support an injunction or temporary stay prohibiting District Attorney Willis’s enforcement or execution of the arrest warrant against Meadows,” Jones wrote.

In a separate order, Jones turned down Clark’s emergency request, which was more sweeping and argued that the entirety of the state court proceedings – including any attempt to arrest any of the 19 defendants who did not turn themselves in this week – should automatically be put on hold.

Willis told the federal court in court filings earlier Wednesday that it should not interfere in any efforts to arrest Meadows, calling his request for the court’s intervention “improper” and “baseless.”

“It should be noted the defendant’s former boss, the former president of the United States, voluntarily agreed to surrender himself to state authorities, while other defendants have already surrendered,” Willis’ office said.

She made similar arguments in a filing submitted Wednesday afternoon in response to the request by Clark.

“Defendant Clark boldly asks this court for expeditious action when he himself has shown no urgency,” Willis wrote, noting that Clark had waited a week after the indictment was handed up to turn to the federal court in Atlanta for relief.

“The defendant seeks to avoid the inconvenience and unpleasantness of being arrested or subject to the mandatory state criminal process, but provides this court no legal basis to justify those ends,” Willis said in her filing in the Clark case.

“The hardship facing the defendant is no different than any other criminal defendant charged with a crime, including his co-defendants who have either already surrendered to Fulton County Authorities or have agreed to so surrender in the time allotted by the district attorney,” Willis’ office said of Meadows’ request to avoid being processed.

Meadows’ conduct was ‘political activity,’ Willis says in push against claim of immunity

In a separate filing, Willis said that Meadows’ attempt to move the election subversion case against him to federal court should be rejected because the conduct in question was “political activity” outside his official duties as Trump’s White House chief of staff.

“He has not shown how his participation in a RICO enterprise that conspired to overturn an election had any relationship to his official duties, much less how his participation in such an agreement was necessary for him to perform as a Chief of Staff,” Willis wrote, referring to the Georgia anti-racketeering law under which she charged Meadows, Trump and 17 other co-defendants.

The filing – which was Willis’ broader response, ahead of Monday’s hearing, to Meadows’ arguments for moving the case to federal court – is a preview of how she could fight against a similar effort by Trump, who is also expected to ask that state court proceedings be moved to federal court.

The filing also hints at the evidence Willis is assembling for Monday’s hearing, with references to House January 6 committee depositions given by top Trump White House aides who witnessed episodes involving Meadows, which Willis contends were overt acts of the alleged RICO conspiracy. Her office has also issued subpoenas for testimony at Monday’s hearing to two lawyers who were present on the Trump call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, which is central to the allegations Fulton County prosecutors are making against the former White House chief of staff.

District attorney calls Clark legal theories ‘unusual’

Willis took several swipes at the legal claims Clark is pushing, telling the federal court that “the theory the defendant advances could charitably be characterized as unusual.”

Clark’s bid to move her case to federal court is more broadly framed than Meadows,’ and Clark argues that the federal court should follow the rules of federal removal in civil proceedings. Such rulings would require state court proceedings for entire case – for all the defendants – to automatically be paused and moved to federal court, Clark argued in court filings earlier this week.

“Because any urgency in the defendant’s situation is entirely attributable to his own delay, he should not be rewarded with a stay that deprives the state of the opportunity to first oppose removal of his criminal case,” Willis wrote.

Willis pushed back on his claim that the special purpose grand jury prosecutors used to investigate the election subversion was a civil entity, therefore triggering the civil rules. She submitted to the federal court a state court ruling during those proceedings that described the special grand jury as criminal in nature.

“The pending indictment against defendant is exclusively criminal,” she wrote.

“As inconvenient as modern air travel can admittedly be, whatever nuisance involved in the defendant securing a flight to Atlanta within the window provided is self-evidently insufficient justification to invoke this court’s authority to enjoin a state felony criminal prosecution,” Willis continued.

This headline and story have been updated with additional developments.

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