(ATLANTA) — Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, charged along with 18 others in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia, is in court Monday to try to have his trial moved from state to federal court.
Among other charges, the indictment cites Meadows’ role in the infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call then-President Donald Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — actions that Meadows argues he took as a federal official acting “under color” of his office.
-Meadows: ‘I don’t know that I did anything that was outside of my role’
-Meadows describes ‘biggest surprise’ in indictment
-Meadows says his role was to be in almost every meeting Trump had
-Arraignments set for Sept. 6
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern.
Aug 28, 8:16 PM EDT
Hearing ends, no decision from the judge
The hearing ended Monday evening with no decision from the judge about Mark Meadows’ request.
Meadows’ attorneys asked the court for a “prompt” ruling “as soon as it possibly can,” and the judge said he would rule quickly.
The judge noted he would give it “thorough consideration” and that it was a “very important case” and would likely set precedent.
The judge added that if he doesn’t rule by Sept. 6 — the date the defendants are set to be arraigned — he said Meadows will have to go through with the arraignment.
-ABC News’ Olivia Rubin
Aug 28, 6:36 PM EDT
Prosecution makes final arguments
The prosecution closed their arguments by saying there is “nothing to show” how Meadows’ participation in a criminal conspiracy to overturn an election was within his official duties.
Prosecutors questioned if it was “necessary or proper” to offer campaign resources to state officials or arrange state elections.
“It was done so Donald Trump could be declared the winner of the 2020 election, when he was not,” prosecutors said regarding Meadows’ actions.
Prosecutors said all Meadows had to do during the hearing Monday was “look at that law, something he astronomically paid no attention to today.”
The prosecution claimed the defense did not demonstrate what federal authorities allowed the chief of staff to arrange Trump’s call with Raffensperger.
The prosecution also said Meadows in multiple instances throughout his testimony today used the term “we” while never explaining who “we” meant when he described calls and emails. Was it the campaign or the federal office, the prosecution asked.
-ABC News’ Riley Hoffman, Mike Levine, Soorin Kim and Nadine El-Bawab
Aug 28, 5:41 PM EDT
Meadows’ lawyers make final argument to judge
Mark Meadows’ legal team began its final argument to the judge.
They contended that removing this case to federal court requires them to meet “the lowest evidentiary burden one can imagine.”
The defense just needs to show “some kind of… connection to the duties” of chief of staff to warrant removal, Meadows’ lawyer said.
He said a “critical aspect” of Meadows’ testimony Monday was that he took the actions he did related to the Jan. 2, 2021, call to get “closure” so the government could move on “to the rest of the transition and peaceful transfer of power.”
The lawyer also said that “the federal government has a huge role in post-election matters.”
-ABC News’ Mike Levine
Aug 28, 5:06 PM EDT
Raffensperger: ‘We spoke the truth’
After prosecutors played a portion of the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between then-President Donald Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, prosecutors asked Raffensperger, “Did Trump win?”
“No, he did not,” Raffensperger responded, adding, “He lost the election in the state of Georgia.”
Raffensperger then listed off the investigations he and his team conducted into allegations of voter fraud, rattling them off one by one, stating that none of them found evidence of voter fraud.
“You add that all up, none of that was sufficient,” Raffensperger said. “We spoke the truth.”
Raffensperger finished testifying after over one hour on the stand.
Aug 28, 4:31 PM EDT
Raffensperger: Trump’s ‘outreach to that extent was extraordinary’
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger testified about the impact of Donald Trump’s pressure to challenge the results in Georgia.
Raffensperger also testified that he faced “multiple threats” to himself and his wife due to the false allegations of election fraud.
Prosecutors, discussing the Jan. 2, 2021, call between Raffensperger and Trump, asked Raffensperger if the election results could have been changed. Raffensperger replied, “We hadn’t crossed that bridge yet, but I wouldn’t think so.”
When asked about Trump’s efforts, Raffensperger said an “outreach to that extent was extraordinary.”
The prosecution played audio clips from the Trump-Raffensperger call in court.
Raffensperger noted, at the prosecutor’s prodding, that no one from the Department of Justice or the White House counsel’s office was on the call.
“I thought that it was a campaign call,” he said.
-ABC News’ Riley Hoffman, Mike Levine, Soorin Kim and Will Steakin
Aug 28, 4:16 PM EDT
When Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger took the stand, he was asked directly what role the federal government plays in the certification of elections. He responded, “None.”
Prosecutors followed up and asked if the president has any role in the certification of an election. Raffensperger responded, “Not from my understanding.”
When asked if Donald Trump’s team won the 2020 presidential election, Raffensperger said, “They lost the election.”
Prosecutors then asked who won, and Raffensperger responded, “Now-President Biden.”
Raffensperger testified about Meadows’ efforts to reach him before the Jan. 2, 2021, call, including a November 2020 text telling Raffensperger to call him. But Raffensperger said he didn’t call him back. He said it would be inappropriate to have “outside forces” weighing in on the state’s inquiries into alleged fraud.
-ABC News’ Nadine El-Bawab
Aug 28, 3:56 PM EDT
Attorney on Raffensperger call takes the stand
The first witness called to the stand by the prosecution was Kurt Hilbert, a Georgia attorney who was on Donald Trump’s Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Hillbert testified that on Jan. 2, 2021, before the phone call, he spoke to Trump, Mark Meadows and lawyer Cleta Mitchell, all of whom were later on the call with Raffensperger.
Contrary to what Meadows testified, Hilbert said the only reason for the call with Raffensperger was to discuss campaign matters.
The prosecution asked, “You believe the entirety of that conversation was in furtherance of settlement negotiations related to the campaign lawsuit in Georgia?” Hilbert responded, “Yes.”
The judge asked him why he believed that, and Hilbert said there were two pending lawsuits on the Georgia election and “there would be no other purpose” in having the call.
Hilbert said he did understand Meadows to be there as chief of staff.
Meadows testified earlier Monday that he couldn’t recall if he spoke with campaign lawyers prior to the call on Jan. 2, 2021.
-ABC News’ Riley Hoffman, Mike Levine and Will Steakin
Aug 28, 3:29 PM EDT
Defense rests, Meadows steps down
Mark Meadows’ defense has rested. Meadows stepped down from the stand after nearly three hours and 40 minutes.
Before stepping down, he reiterated that there is a federal role in ensuring the accuracy of elections and protecting elections from cyberthreats.
Before Meadows stepped down, prosecutors questioned him about his role in the fake electors scheme. Meadows said, “As chief of staff, no I did not coordinate those efforts.”
The prosecution asked Meadows if he had a personal interest in Trump staying in office. He responded, “Wanting him to stay in office? Certainly.”
The prosecution then asked if keeping his job depended on it. Meadows said yes, joking, “I can’t imagine that I would be chief of staff for Joe Biden … I was not on the shortlist.”
Meadows testified that Trump’s focus on various allegations of election fraud played a role in Meadows being so involved in efforts to overturn the election. Meadows claimed, “They were consuming the president’s time.”
-ABC News’ Mike Levine and Will Steakin
Aug 28, 3:06 PM EDT
Meadows addresses Hatch Act
Mark Meadows testified that the Hatch Act does apply to the White House chief of staff, but he said “there are some differences of opinion on how it should apply.”
Meadows insisted that when it comes to his interactions with people connected to Donald Trump’s campaign, including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, he said, “I didn’t [see ] that as a violation of the Hatch Act.”
The Hatch Act limits the political participation and speech of federal employees.
-ABC News’ Mike Levine
Aug 28, 3:00 PM EDT
Meadows dodges questions on if he believed Trump won election
Mark Meadows repeatedly dodged the prosecution’s questions on whether he believed Donald Trump’s claims about the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“He believed he won,” Meadows said, to which the prosecution pressed, “Did you believe that?”
“I believed there were additional things that needed to be investigated,” Meadows replied, without saying whether he personally believed Trump won the 2020 election.
The prosecution repeatedly pressed Meadows, asking at one point if he meant that he did not have enough information to come to his own conclusion.
Meadows again deflected, saying there were a number of allegations, but he believed the signature verification issue in Fulton County, Georgia, had more credibility than the other allegations.
-ABC News’ Soorin Kim
Aug 28, 2:54 PM EDT
Prosecution asks Meadows about Raffensperger call
When Mark Meadows’ hearing resumed Monday afternoon, prosecutors honed in on the time frame between when Donald Trump asked Meadows to set up the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and when the call took place.
Prosecutors also tried to undercut the claim that the Raffensberger call was federal business. Under questioning, Meadows noted that no one from the White House counsel’s office or the Department of Homeland Security was on the call.
When the prosecution asked Meadows why he believed by Jan. 2, 2021, that questions about the election in Georgia were still “outstanding,” as Meadows had testified, the former chief of staff said because Trump “kept asking me about it.”
Aug 28, 2:02 PM EDT
Meadows says judge asked ‘insightful questions’
On direct examination, Mark Meadows’ testimony at one point became almost a one-on-one conversation between him and the judge, as they both swiveled their chairs to directly face each other.
The judge asked Meadows his own questions, including asking him for specific instances when he went out and got information.
They were “very insightful questions,” Meadows told the judge when he was finished.
Aug 28, 1:52 PM EDT
Meadows testifies about Raffensperger call
Mark Meadows said on the stand that he wasn’t sure whether the lawyers on then-President Donald Trump’s phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger were Trump’s personal attorneys or lawyers for the Trump campaign.
The prosecutor then asked Meadows if he didn’t know what roles they had then “why did you want them on the call?” At that moment the judge shook his head in seeming bewilderment.
Meadows said the purpose of the phone call was to find a “less litigious way” to resolve an issue regarding signature match in Fulton County, Georgia.
Repeatedly asked about how the call with Raffensperger came about, Meadows said he reached out to Raffensperger himself once and then reached out to a staff member of the secretary of state’s office, but he said neither of them answered and he does not recall how the call was eventually facilitated.
He said Trump himself asked to reach out to Raffensperger.
Asked about his conversations with Cleta Mitchell, one of the three lawyers involved in the call, Meadows said he spoke with her about a variety of aspects related to Georgia and alleged election fraud but said he doesn’t recall the specifics.
ABC News’ Nadine El-Bawab, Will Steakin and Soorin Kim
Aug 28, 1:22 PM EDT
Meadows: ‘I don’t know that I did anything that was outside of my role’
Court is in a brief recess after Mark Meadows testified for nearly three hours without breaks.
On the stand, Meadows firmly stood by his actions — including observing the audit in Cobb County, Georgia, and setting up then-President Donald Trump’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — putting it squarely as part of his role as chief of staff.
“I don’t know that I did anything that was outside of my role as chief of staff,” Meadows testified.
“I saw it as part of my role,” Meadows said. “The president gave clear direction to deal with it.”
Meadows said serving Trump “takes on all kinds of forms” and that much of the work had a “political component to certainly everything.”
Meadows was careful with his words, at one point saying he didn’t want to say anything incorrectly, while joking, “I’m in enough trouble as it is.”
Attorneys for Trump were seated in the second row as Meadows testified.
ABC News’ Mike Levine, Aaron Katersky and Will Steakin
Aug 28, 1:06 PM EDT
Meadows asked about text to Georgia Secretary of State chief investigator
The state pressured former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about a text Meadows sent to Georgia Secretary of State chief investigator Frances Watson that read: “Is there any way to speed up Fulton County signature verdicts in order to have results before Jan. 6 if Trump campaign assist financially?”
Meadows claimed he was in a unique relationship, acting as chief of staff but not offering federal funds.
When prosecutors asked why he was making a financial offer, Meadows claimed he was trying to ask if the speed of counting was due to an overtime issue or financial constraint.
ABC News’ Danielle Jennings, Riley Hoffman and Will Steakin
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