Experts outline the case to convict Mark Meadows for aiding Trump's attempt to overturn the election
Mark Meadows (Screengrab)

It was revealed this month that Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark tried to use the DOJ to steal the 2020 election along with former President Donald Trump and his chief of staff Mark Meadows. Legal experts have argued that Clark will likely be indicted, but a JustSecurity post argues that Meadows could be in trouble too.

Attorney General Bill Barr had resigned, and Trump and his allies were pressuring acting AG Jeffrey Rosen to use the power of the Justice Department to fight the election results. Former DOJ official Richard Donoghue was taking notes when Trump was pressing them to act. "Just say the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me," Trump commanded according to those notes.

That conversation wasn't the only one, however. "Trump and Meadows repeatedly pressured Rosen to enlist the Justice Department in overturning the election, and Clark appears to have directly participated in the plan," JustSecurity explained.

"These actions may have run afoul of 18 USC §610, the Political Coercion Act," the piece explained. "Its felony provisions make it a crime to intimidate, threaten, command, coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, command or coerce a government employee to engage in 'any political activity,' including working 'on behalf of at candidate.'"

"The Trump-Clark collaboration, and the efforts to get Rosen to sign the letter to Georgia officials, make Clark vulnerable to charges under §610, either as an aider and abettor of Trump's efforts or as a co-conspirator with him," the JustSecurity piece noted.

Over the years of the Trump administration, it has been clear that violations of the Hatch Act by people like Kellyanne Conway and Ivanka Trump were mostly ignored. In this case, Hatch Act violations were criminal, which are punishable by up to a year in prison. The piece explained that the fastest path to having Clark disbarred for the behavior is by using criminal Hatch Act charges.

Meadows was along for the ride with Clark. He also pressured Rosen to have Clark investigate the lie that Georgia's election was fraudulent.

"It stands to reason that Meadows, as acting chief of staff and gatekeeper to the president, was aware of the illicit communications between Trump and Clark including their meeting in person," wrote JustSecurity. "It would be valuable to know whether Meadows attended that meeting, and also whether the chief of staff participated in or was aware of the Dec. 27 — 'just say the election was corrupt' – conversation, in which Trump also threatened to replace Rosen with Clark."

Meadows also flew to Georgia to put the pressure on in person. On Dec. 22, 2020, Meadows met with lead investigator Frances Watson, and suggested that she speak to Trump directly. He urged her to find "the dishonesty" in the election so that the results could be overturned. Trump even praised Watson, saying in a recorded call that, "When the right answer comes out, you'll be praised."

"Meadows also actively participated in Trump's infamous, recorded phone call on January 2 to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump asked him to 'find 11,780 votes,' the precise number needed to overturn Georgia's election. Fulton County DA Fani Wills is investigating that call," JustSecurity also noted.

The piece explained that Meadows' actions would fall under a federal employee using "his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election," and attempting to manipulate Rosen to participate in "political activity."

Ironically, in Aug. 2020, Meadows proclaimed that no one outside of Washington cares about the Hatch Act. That would certainly change if the Justice Department decides to prosecute criminal violations.

Read the full take at JustSecurity.