The former White House chief of staff for ex-President Donald Trump, has entered a not guilty plea in the state of Georgia, where he and 18 associates face charges related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
This move follows the decision by Meadows to waive a formal arraignment, mirroring the actions of Trump and several others implicated in the case.
By avoiding the scheduled court hearings this week in Fulton County Superior Court, Trump and his co-defendants have circumvented anticipated large gatherings of journalists and both supporters and critics of the former President.
Trump, who continues to be a frontrunner for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential candidacy, and his co-accused stand accused of attempting to undermine the 2020 election outcome in favor of Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
This marks the second indictment against Trump for election interference and the fourth set of criminal charges he has faced this year. In August, he was arraigned on federal charges linked to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, and in June, he faced charges in Florida related to the mishandling of classified government documents.
Additionally, Trump was charged in New York for alleged alterations of business records in connection with hush-money payments to an adult-film star before the 2016 elections.
Throughout these legal challenges, Trump has consistently maintained his innocence and asserted that these charges are politically motivated attempts to derail his potential re-election campaign. Originally, Georgia prosecutors had scheduled arraignments for Trump and his co-defendants for September 6, but Trump submitted a not-guilty plea via a court filing last week, thus waiving the need for the arraignment.
In the same vein, Trump’s personal lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and lawyers John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark also waived formal arraignment in the Georgia case. CNN reported that 18 of the 19 co-defendants have entered not guilty pleas, while the remaining individual charged in the case, former Coffee County election official Misty Hampton, is expected to plead in person during Wednesday’s arraignment.
Trump, facing a total of 13 charges in the Georgia case, surrendered last month at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta and was released on $200,000 bond, making him the first former U.S. president to have his mugshot taken during an arrest. Trump and his co-defendants are charged under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, commonly used to prosecute organized crime.
The investigation into Trump’s involvement in the election interference began after the public release of a January 2, 2021 phone call between Trump and Georgia’s top election official, during which Trump urged the official to “find 11,780 votes” to change the election outcome in his favor.
Meadows, on his part, faces allegations in the Georgia indictment of making false statements about the election, conspiring with Trump to disrupt the congressional certification of electoral votes on January 6, 2021, and attempting to influence a chief investigator in the Georgia secretary of state’s office.
Meadows has requested that his case be moved to a U.S. federal court, arguing that the Democratic-leaning Fulton County was not an appropriate venue for the trial.
During his testimony in federal court in Atlanta on August 28, Meadows asserted that he was merely fulfilling his duties when assisting Trump in contesting his 2020 election loss, emphasizing the political dimension of their actions.