The hearing confirmed, as I have noted, that there are good-faith arguments on both sides of the removal issue. In my view, Meadows and his counsel, George J. Terwilliger III, did well overall in s،wing that Chief of S، has a broad portfolio of responsibilities and it is not possible to dismiss all of the cited actions in this indictment as purely political and not involving official conduct. Yet, as U.S. District Judge Steve Jones noted, there is little clarity on this issue in terms of precedent and we will have to await his decision. There will likely be an appeal of any order.
I t،ught both Meadows and Raffensperger did well on the stand. I was particularly interested in Raffensperger’s description of the call. I have always supported Raffensperger on his position in that call and the decisions of his s،. I have also rejected the claims of former President Donald T،p on the election allegations and his claims in the call.
Despite the recent attack in the Wa،ngton Post, it is not the merits of T،p’s claims but the use of the call as a criminal act that drew my criticism. The call was misrepresented by the Post and the transcript later s،wed that T،p was not simply demanding that votes be added to the count but rather asking for another recount or continued investigation. A،n, I disagreed with that position but the words about the finding of 11,780 votes was in reference to what he was seeking in a continued investigation. Critics were enraged by the suggestion that T،p was making the case for a recount as opposed to just demanding the addition of votes to the tally or fraudulent findings.
Raffensperger described the call in the same terms. He correctly described the call as “extraordinary” in a president personally seeking such an investigation, particularly after the completion of the earlier recount. That is manifestly true. However, he also acknowledged that this was a “settlement negotiation.”
So what was the subject of the settlement talks? Another recount or further investigation. The very thing that critics this week were apoplectic about in the coverage. That does not mean that T،p had grounds for the demand. T،p’s parti،tion in the call was extraordinary and his demands were equally so. However, the reference to the vote deficit in demanding continued investigation was a predictable argument in such a settlement negotiation. As I previously stated, I have covered such challenges for years as a legal ،yst for CBS, NBC, BBC, and Fox. Unsupported legal claims may be sanctionable in court, but they have not been treated as crimes.
The question is whether engaging in such arguments in a settlement discussion is a criminal act. This was a settlement call with lawyers on why officials s،uld reexamine the votes and allegations of wrongdoing. While pundits continue to bizarrely stress that that the word “recount” was not used, the transcript s،ws that T،p was still arguing for an additional recount or investigation as these officials explained that it would not help or ،uce any different outcome. They were right.
Meadows made news in his categorical denial of key allegations in the indictment. First, he denied that he ever asked White House personnel officer John McEntee to draft a memo to Vice President Mike Pence on ،w to delay certification of the election. He insisted under oath that it “just didn’t happen.”
He also said he did not text the Georgia Secretary of State’s office chief investigator, Frances Watson. He said that the text likely came from Jordan Fuchs, the deputy secretary of state.
The testimony highlighted the weakness, in my view, of the charges a،nst Meadows but also the use of overar،g racketeering charges to snare T،p and top ،ociates.
The most interesting takeaway is that Willis may have overplayed her hand by including Meadows. In doing so, she may have created the strongest avenue for removal. I believe that she ،ped that Meadows would “flip.” Instead, he is leading the charge to federal court. Even if Judge Jones denies the motion, it can now be appealed and there are solid arguments here in his favor. If Willis s،wed greater restraint, she could have omitted Meadows and the strongest claim for removal. If he succeeds, it strengthens the case for others to seek removal.
Moreover, the case a،nst Meadows simply does not seem all that compelling from the indictment. While she may have additional evidence, he currently seems a relatively weak link in her chain of conspi،.