Mark Meadows, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and others plead not guilty in Trump’s Georgia RICO case

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in Georgia related to a sprawling case surrounding Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

John Eastman, a lawyer linked to Trump and the chief architect of a conspiracy to illegally swap presidential electors for Joe Biden with Trump loyalists, and former assistant US attorney general Jeffrey Clarke also pleaded not guilty and waived court appearances of Fulton County scheduled for Sept. 6.

He joins 16 other defendants in the case, including the former president, who have pleaded not guilty to charges against them, including an alleged racketeering scheme prosecuted under the state's RICO statute.

Only Misty Hampton, the former director of elections in Coffee County, Georgia, has yet to make an appeal.

Former Coffee County Republican Party Chairwoman Cathy Latham, former Georgia Republican Party Chair David Shafer and current Sen. Shawn Still — all of whom were among the 16 fraudulent voters — also pleaded not guilty on Sept. 5 and resigned from their appearances.

The former president and his 18 co-defendants were formally indicted earlier this month on a series of charges related to an alleged criminal enterprise orchestrated by then-President Trump and his allies to overturn the election results, one of the largest criminal cases ever have been made to date against the former president. president to date for crimes allegedly committed while in office.

Last week, Mr. Meadows testified in U.S. District Court in Atlanta as part of his bid to move the state case out of Fulton County and into federal court, marking one of the first courtroom battles between the 19 defendants and of prosecutors under Fulton County District Attorney Fani. Willis.

It also marked some of his first public statements in months, and his first as a criminal defendant.

His surprise testimony in federal court on Aug. 28 comes two weeks after a grand jury indictment laid out the largest and most important case facing Trump and others who are alleged to have “knowingly and willfully participated in a conspiracy to illegally alter the outcome of elections” to ensure he remained in power.

He faces two counts in the sprawling 41-count indictment that outlines dozens of acts that comprise the conspiracy: one count of violating Georgia's RICO statute and one count of violating the oath of office by a public official.

Lawyers for Mr. Meadows asked for the case to be “expeditiously removed” from Fulton County, citing a federal law that allows US officials to remove civil or criminal trials from state court for alleged actions taken “under the color” of of their offices, with Mr. Meadows carrying out such acts during his “tenure” as White House chief of staff, they wrote in court records.

The Georgia case is separate from the U.S. Department of Justice investigation and federal charges against Trump over his efforts to sway the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington set a tentative trial date of this case for March 4, 2024 – one day before the Super Tuesday primary.

This is a developing story