Former Dekalb County, Ga., District Attorney J. Tom Morgan said Monday he is “absolutely amazed” that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows took the stand in a hearing to move his Georgia election case to federal court.
“It’s a calculated risk to put a defendant on the stand at any time, certainly during pretrial motions, and usually the calculation goes against the defendant,” Morgan said in an interview on CNN’s “Inside Politics.” “I’m absolutely amazed he is taking the stand.”
Meadows unexpectedly took the stand for hours in an Atlanta hearing Monday, as he attempts to move his charges from state court to federal court so he can assert immunity and get the counts dismissed.
“Just because you receive a federal paycheck doesn’t mean that everything you do comes under the guidelines of your job description as a federal official,” Morgan said. “What Mr. Meadows was doing was helping the president and others to overturn the Georgia election.”
When asked if he would not have allowed Meadows to testify if he was his client, Morgan again said, “It’s a calculated risk.”
“It seems like there were other ways that you could get this evidence without putting the defendant on the witness stand,” Morgan said. “As a former prosecutor, I would be chomping at the bit for the opportunity to cross-examine Mr. Meadows.”
To switch courts, Meadows must demonstrate he was a federal officer, that the allegations relate to an act taken “under color of such office” and that he has a plausible federal defense. If he succeeds, the jury pool would be expanded to less Democrat-heavy areas of suburban Atlanta and have a federal judge oversee the proceedings instead.
Meadows is looking to avoid trial altogether, having already requested the federal court to dismiss his charges upon taking over the case.
Meadows was the first of five of the co-defendants in the election case to file to move their charges and was the first to have a hearing over the request. While Monday’s hearing was focused on just Meadows’s request to move his case, the decision could have implications for other defendants, who could automatically go to federal court with Meadows.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones, who is overseeing the co-defendants’ requests, scheduled hearings for two of the others on Sept. 18 but has not yet acted on the other two co-defendants’ requests.
Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis (D) charged Meadows alongside Trump and 17 other co-defendants in an alleged scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential elections in the state.
He faces two felony counts in the indictment, including racketeering and solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer.
In the wake of damning testimony about his actions on Jan. 6, Meadows has been largely out of the public eye, despite having been a figure in the past who gravitated toward the limelight.