(ATLANTA) — Less than 10 months after taking on the role as Donald Trump’s right-hand man in the Oval Office, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows allegedly became the then-president’s key partner in a criminal conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
On Monday, the 64-year-old Meadows was listed with Trump and 17 other alleged co-conspirators in a sweeping felony indictment handed up by a Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury.
Meadows, Trump and the other named co-conspirators are charged with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act. Meadows also faces a charge of solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said in a late-night news conference Monday that the defendants participated “in a criminal enterprise in Fulton County, Georgia, and elsewhere to accomplish the illegal goal of allowing Donald J. Trump to seize the presidential term of office.”
If convicted of the RICO charges, the defendants face time in prison, according to Willis. “It is not a probated sentence,” she said.
On Tuesday, Meadows’ attorney George Terwilliger filed a motion requesting the case against his client be moved from state court in Georgia to federal court. The filing is based on federal law that Terwilliger argues requires a criminal proceeding brought in state court to be removed to the federal court system when someone is charged for actions they allegedly took as a federal official acting “under color” of their office.
“Nothing Mr. Meadows is alleged in the indictment to have done is criminal per se: arranging Oval Office meetings, contacting state officials on the President’s behalf, visiting a state government building, and setting up a phone call for the President,” Terwilliger wrote in the filing. “One would expect a Chief of Staff to the President of the United States to do these sorts of things.”
Terwilliger added in his filing, “This is precisely the kind of state interference in a federal official’s duties that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits, and that the removal statute shields against.”
Meadows could not be immediately reached by ABC News for comment.
According to the indictment, Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman, is accused of participating in eight “overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy.” His alleged engagement in the conspiracy dates back to Nov. 20, 2020, when he and Trump met in the Oval Office with Michigan legislators, including Michael Shirkey, the majority leader of the Michigan Senate, and Lee Chatfield, speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives.
During the meeting, according to the indictment, Trump allegedly “made false statements concerning fraud in the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election in Michigan.”
Willis explained that while some of the 161 acts in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy occurred outside Georgia, the grand jury included them in the indictment because the panel “believes they were part of the illegal effort to overturn the results of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.”
In another overt act, Meadows is accused of traveling to Georgia on Dec. 22, 2020, in an attempt to observe a signature match audit on the presidential election that law enforcement officers and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation were conducting at the Cobb County Civic Auditorium. The audit process was not open to the public, according to the indictment.
While at the Cobb County Civic Auditorium, Meadows spoke to Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs, the Georgia Secretary of State Chief Investigator Frances Watson and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Bahan Rich, who all prevented him from observing the audit, according to the indictment.
On Dec. 23, 2020, Meadows allegedly arranged a phone call between Trump and Watson, in which the president “falsely stated” he had won the Nov. 3 presidential election “by hundreds of thousands of votes,” according to the indictment. The president told Watson, “When the right answer comes out you’ll be praised,” the indictment alleges.
In a subsequent text message sent to Watson on Dec. 27, 2020, Meadows asked, according to the indictment, “Is there a way to speed up the Fulton County signature verification in order to have the results before Jan. 6 if the Trump campaign assists financially?”
Two days later, on Dec. 29, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger released a statement saying a hand recount and machine recount of the votes requested by the Trump campaign confirmed Trump had lost the presidential race in Georgia. Raffensperger, a Republican, also said the signature match audit found no fraudulent absentee ballots.
Despite the results Raffensperger announced, Meadows and Trump allegedly committed the felony of solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer by “unlawfully soliciting, requesting and importuning Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a public officer, to engage in conduct constituting the felony of adjusting, and otherwise unlawfully influencing the certified returns for the presidential electors for the November 3 presidential election in Georgia.”
In a recording of the hour-long conference call obtained by ABC News, Trump told Raffensperger that he wanted to “find 11,780 votes” that would declare him the winner in Georgia. During the call, Meadows told Raffensperger, “There are allegations where we believe that not every vote or fair vote and legal vote was counted and that’s at odds with the representation from the secretary of state’s office,” according to the recording.
Raffensperger, according to the recording, responded by telling Trump, “We don’t agree that you won.”
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