Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Georgia case
(CNN) — Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and five other defendants charged in the election interference case in Fulton County pleaded not guilty Tuesday and waived their arraignments in new court filings.
Eighteen of the 19 defendants charged in the case have entered not guilty pleas. The remaining holdout – former Coffee County election official Misty Hampton – will have to enter a plea or appear in person for arraignment on Wednesday.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat, charged Meadows with two state crimes: violating Georgia’s anti-racketeering RICO law and soliciting a public official to violate their oath. The charges mostly revolve around the infamous January 2021 phone call where Trump and Meadows pressed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to flip the election results in Trump’s favor.
Meadows is trying to move his case out of state court and into federal court, where he could possibly get the indictment dismissed by invoking immunity that shields many federal workers from litigation.
At a high-stakes hearing in August, Meadows testified under oath for more than three hours and claimed that the alleged actions described in the Georgia indictment were connected to his formal government duties as Trump’s chief of staff. The federal judge who will decide whether to move the case still hasn’t issued a ruling.
Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who is similarly seeking to move his case to federal court, also pleaded not guilty in a court filing. Georgia law allows criminal defendants to waive their in-person appearance and formally enter a not-guilty plea through paperwork filed with the court.
Clark was charged with two counts in the Georgia case. He served as a senior Trump appointee at the Justice Department and tried to use his powers as a federal official to overturn the 2020 election. He drafted a letter, which was ultimately never sent, promoting false claims of voting irregularities and urged Georgia lawmakers to consider throwing out Biden’s legitimate electors.
Clark lobbied Trump to make him the acting attorney general so he could send the letter and have the Justice Department intervene in the Georgia election. Trump decided not to put Clark in charge after other senior Justice Department officials threatened to resign.
Pro-Trump attorney John Eastman, Georgia state Sen. Shawn Still, former Coffee County GOP Chair Cathy Latham and former Georgia GOP Chair David Shafer also entered not guilty pleas and waived their formal arraignments in court filings Tuesday.
Eastman was indicted on nine counts, including a racketeering charge. He devised and promoted a six-step plan for then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn Joe Biden’s victory while presiding over the Electoral College certification on January 6, 2021. He also urged Georgia state lawmakers to appoint fake GOP electors to replace the legitimate slate of Democratic electors.
Still was charged with seven state crimes and is one of the 16 Republicans who served as “fake electors” in Georgia and signed paperwork falsely claiming that Trump won the Peach State. This was part of the Trump campaign’s plan to subvert the Electoral College process and nullify Joe Biden’s victory.
Latham was charged with 11 counts related to an alleged plot to unlawfully access voter data and ballot counting equipment in Coffee County, in addition to the racketeering charge that is central to Willis’ case. Latham also signed on to be an alternative elector for Trump in Georgia.
Shafer was charged with eight state crimes. Fulton County prosecutors accused him of playing a key role in organizing the Trump campaign’s slate of fake electors in Georgia, as part of the effort to subvert the Electoral College. He served as a fake elector and convened the other 15 fake electors in the Georgia State Capitol in December 2020, where they signed a certificate falsely stating that Trump won the state over Biden.
Shafer has previously claimed that the fake electors scheme came at the direction of Trump and the Trump campaign.
Shafer and Latham are also seeking to move their cases from state court to federal court.
This story has been updated with additional developments and background information.