Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and five other co-defendants pleaded not guilty in the Georgia election interference case on Tuesday. The pleas came after Politico reported earlier in the day about a new trend seems to be emerging among those charged alongside Donald Trump: shift the blame onto the former president.
Thus far, 18 of the 19 defendants, including Trump, have pleaded not guilty. Hearings and court documents reviewed by Politico contain hints that some of them may be planning to point their finger at the former president in order to save themselves. The most prominent among them is Meadows, who has been charged with violations of the Georgia RICO Act in addition to solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer.
While cross-examining Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last week, Meadows’ attorney emphasized Trump’s role in his Dec. 2020 phone call to Raffensperger while downplaying Meadows’ contributions. During the infamous call, Trump instructed Raffensperger to “find” nearly 12,000 additional votes for him in the state.
“There’s a lot of statements by Mr. Trump,” Meadows’ lawyer, Michael Francisco, said while cross-examining the secretary of state after a recording of the call was played for the court, according to Politico. “Mr. Meadows’ speaking roles were quite limited.”
“He didn’t make a request that you change the vote totals — Mr. Meadows, himself?” Francisco added.
“Correct,” Raffensperger answered.
When Meadows testified last week, he was asked about an email he sent to the Trump campaign encouraging it to put together a list of fake electors. Meadows claimed he did it because he didn’t want to face Trump’s wrath. “What I didn’t want to happen was for the campaign to prevail in court action and not have this” lined up, Meadows said.
When the prosecutor asked why he didn’t want that to happen, Meadows said, “Because I knew I’d be yelled at by the president of the United States.”
Meadows appears to have been closely involved not only in Trump’s Georgia efforts but also in the larger effort to overturn the election ahead of Jan. 6. During the House Jan. 6 Committee hearings, Meadows’ former aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified that he — at Trump’s direction — phoned Gen. Michael Flynn and political consultant Roger Stone the day before the Capitol attack. Only Trump has been indicted in the federal government’s Jan. 6 case.
Trump has long suspected that Meadows might flip against him. As Rolling Stone reported in June, Trump instructed his attorneys and advisers to find out, “What is Mark [Meadows] doing?” with regard to the case. They came back without much information, leading some close to Trump to speculate the former chief of staff may be a rat.
Politico also notes that three co-defendants who claimed in documents to be electors for Trump — David Shafer, Cathleen Latham, and Shawn Still — have said in court filings that the charges against them are all connected to things they did at Trump’s “direction.”
By blaming Trump, co-defendants may not only take the attention off themselves, it could also set them up to be protected if Trump claims “executive immunity” regarding the charges, something his attorney has said he intends to do. “Eventually, Trump is going to assert broad presidential immunity and everyone else is going to ride under his authority,” criminal defense attorney William Shipley told Politico.
Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/meadows-throw-trump-under-bus-georgia-1234818498/