Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis (D) on Wednesday urged a judge to reject two of former President Trump’s co-defendants’ attempts to block their arrests.
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark have mounted efforts to prevent Willis from arresting them if they don’t voluntarily surrender by her Friday deadline.
Both men are seeking a pause as they attempt to move their charges from state court to federal court, with the hopes of asserting constitutional immunity and other defenses to get their counts dismissed.
“The defendant has failed to demonstrate he has suffered irreparable harm warranting federal intervention in his case and has cited no authority authorizing this Court to prevent his lawful arrest,” Chief Senior Assistant District Attorney F. McDonald Wakeford responded in court filings to Meadows on Wednesday.
“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,” Wakeford continued.
Responding to Clark’s request, Willis’s office called it an “apparent misread of the applicable statutes, a misapprehension of the binding caselaw, and a fundamental misunderstanding of criminal procedure—both state and federal.”
Willis charged Meadows, Clark, Trump and 16 others in state court last week over alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
After the grand jury voted on the indictment, Meadows quickly filed a notice to move his charges to federal court. Clark followed days later, along with another co-defendant, David Shafer.
Shafer has surrendered voluntarily, but Clark and Meadows went a step further Tuesday and asked a federal judge to prevent their arrests.
“In essence, the defendant’s emergency motion is a plea to this Court to prevent the defendant from being arrested on the charges lawfully brought by the State of Georgia,” Willis’s office responded in Meadows’s case. “Despite the Defendant’s attempts to characterize the request as a “temporary pause,” it is a request that the routine processing and handling of a criminal matter in the State system be dictated by federal authority. Such a request is improper.”
Meadows has a Monday hearing scheduled for which court his case should proceed in. But Willis declined to extend her Friday surrender deadline for Meadows, indicating she planned to immediately issue an arrest warrant if he does not appear, court filings show.
To protect him from being arrested, Meadows asked the judge to immediately permit his case to move ahead in federal court without the hearing. Alternatively, he asked for an order preventing his arrest before he heads to court Monday.
“Absent this Court’s intervention, Mr. Meadows will be denied the protection from arrest that federal law affords former federal officials, and this Court’s prompt but orderly consideration of removal will be frustrated,” Meadows’ attorney, John Moran, wrote in court filings.
Clark’s request is legally distinct from the one from Meadows, however.
Meadows is attempting to move only the charges against him to federal court. Clark is trying to move to federal court the charges and the special purpose grand jury, which previously heard evidence in the probe and recommended charges. Those jurors, however, did not vote on the indictment.
Clark claims the special grand jury was technically a civil proceeding, not criminal.
When a party lodges an attempt to move their civil case to federal court, the state proceedings are automatically paused. But if it is criminal, the state proceedings continue until the judge determines the case should move ahead in federal court.
Clark argues that means the state proceedings and arrests should have been automatically paused when he filed his move attempt. Alternatively, he asked the judge to block his arrest on the same legal grounds as Meadows.
“The [special purpose grand jury] Proceedings were used as an investigative tool and as a lead-in to the criminal charges and the two sets of proceedings are thus inextricably linked to one another,” Clark’s attorney, Harry MacDougald, wrote in court filings.
Willis’s office responded by saying the “effort misunderstands fundamental tenets of criminal law and procedure.”
“The theory the defendant advances could charitably be characterized as unusual,” wrote Wakeford.
Updated 3:37 p.m.