(ATLANTA) — Three of former President Donald Trump’s co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case will try to have their cases removed to federal court Wednesday.
For the third time, a federal judge is set to hear arguments during an evidentiary hearing in Atlanta on the issue of federal removal, this time from David Shafer, Shawn Still and Cathy Latham — three of Trump’s so-called “alternate electors” who were charged in the conspiracy case by Fulton County DA Fani Willis.
The three are following in the footsteps of former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark, two federal officials who were charged in the case and have sought to move their cases based on a federal law that calls for the removal of criminal proceedings brought in state court to the federal court system when a federal official or someone acting under them is charged for actions they allegedly took while acting “under color” of their office.
The three defendants are expected to face an uphill battle after Judge Steve Jones earlier this month denied Meadows’ bid. Clark is awaiting a ruling on his motion, while Meadows is continuing his efforts on appeal.
Trump and 18 others were charged in a sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia. Shafer, Still and Latham are charged with impersonating a public officer and forgery, among other crimes, after they allegedly met with 13 other individuals in December 2020 and put forward electors’ certificates falsely stating that Trump won the state and declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors.
All 19 defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Shafer previously served as the chair of the Georgia Republican Party, while Still is currently a Georgia state senator and Latham was the GOP chair for Coffee County.
None of the three are expected to appear in court for their joint hearing, after each submitted a waiver for their in-person appearances. Clark also did not appear for his hearing, while Meadows testified at his own hearing for over three hours.
Shafer, Still and Cathy Latham have argued in court filings that they qualify for removal because they were acting as federal officials, under federal authority, in their role as alternate electors.
“The role of presidential elector is a federal one — created and directed by the United States Constitution and Congress,” the motion from Still’s attorney argued. “Thus, Mr. Still, acting as a presidential elector, was a federal officer.”
But that argument has drawn sharp rebuke from the Fulton County DA’s office, who said the individuals “falsely impersonated” real electors and do not qualify for removal.
“Defendants and his fellow fraudulent electors conspired in a scheme to impersonate true Georgia presidential electors,” the DA’s office wrote in a filing. “Their fiction is not entitled to recognition by the Court.”
“‘Contingent electors’ are not presidential electors,” the filing said, adding that “there is no prize for first runner up in the Electoral college.”
Judge Jones, in denying Meadows’ bid to move his case to federal court, said Meadows failed to show how the allegations in the indictment were related to any of his official duties as Trump’s chief of staff.
Instead, Jones said Meadows’s actions were “taken on behalf of the Trump campaign with an ultimate goal of affecting state election activities and procedures.”
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