Mark Meadows

Elections & Politics Policy Brief #115 | By: Abigail Hunt | December 18, 2023
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Mark Meadows looks hungover in his mugshot, taken August 24, 2023, at the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office. His bloodshot eyes leer into the camera – it is not a good look. One of Trump’s 18 co-defendants, indicted in October 2023 on charges for attempting to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia, Meadows has good reason to drink. Among the evidence cited against him is a text sent to a state official that reads: “Is there a way to speed up Fulton county signature verification in order to have results before Jan 6 if the trump campaign assist financially.” It is almost impressive how thoroughly he provided damning evidence against himself in a single message. The central theme of the text is clear – it is an attempt to subvert the election process.

In 2012, Mark Meadows was first elected to Congress at the age of 53 as a U.S. Republican Representative for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. Before that, he earned an associate degree from the University of South Florida in 1980, which may be the last time we know for a fact he read – or was at least supposed to have read – a book. Meadows’ history is a study in unremarkable-ness – he developed real estate, owned a sandwich shop, and worked as a manager for a Tampa-based electric company.

Meadows filed in 2015 to remove John Boehner as Speaker of the House. He backed the wrong horse with Ted Cruz in the 2016 Presidential election. Since the group’s founding, Meadows has been billed by media as a leader of the far-right wing of the GOP, The Freedom Caucus. However, there’s no membership list to this huge and influential group with all of a rumored 29 members, so attributing that to Meadows is just speculation. What else? He advocated defunding health care. He sat on some committees. He is married with a couple of kids, staunch in his conservatism, and is unnecessarily vocal about his Christianity (Christians are the majority, y’all. Calm down.). Today, Meadows has traded that track record – rather stellar in its beige-ness – for billing as co-defendant to one of the most notorious political criminals in U.S. history. What a rise.

Now Trump’s co-defendant but once his White House Chief of Staff, pundits say Meadows is potentially Trump’s Achille’s heel. Meadows’ personal knowledge of Trump’s behavior and communications could be damaging if the testimony of Meadows’ own top aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, is any indication. Hutchinson’s testimony against Trump during the 2022 January 6th House committee hearings included the roles that Meadows played in aiding Trump. Hutchinson has remarked that Meadows’ clothes often smelled like a bonfire (because he is alleged to have helped Trump burn documents). She also described how Meadows told her Trump privately confided to Meadows that he had lost.

In September 2023, Meadows’ attorneys filed an order in federal court requesting that court to assume jurisdiction over his case. The federal judge denied Meadows’ request, writing, “Assuming jurisdiction over this criminal prosecution would frustrate the purposes of federal officer removal when the state charges allege – not state interference with constitutionally protected federal activities, but – federal interference with constitutionally protected state actions.” As is standard practice, Meadows’ attorneys filed an appeal to the judge’s ruling, which will be heard by a three-judge panel on Dec. 22, 2023.

Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Meadows are considered by prosecutors to be the “key three” of the laundry list of defendants and, as such, will not be offered plea deals. Will Meadows be Trump’s comeuppance? At this point, there are few who can answer that question – Meadows, Trump, and possibly their attorneys. It is likely that even the district attorney has no idea of what information Meadows has socked away. Prosecutors requested the deadline for plea deals be set for June 2024. As each of the lesser co-defendants takes a deal, it is another card falling, but it is the trials of the key three that look to bring the house down.

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