A Georgia father whose descent into QAnon conspiracies and right-wing fanaticism allegedly led him to threaten House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s life has too much money for the public to fund his legal defense, a federal magistrate judge ruled on Thursday.
As chronicled in a lengthy New Yorker profile, Cleveland Grover Meredith, Jr., attended the prestigious Lovett School in northern Atlanta with mostly white classmates and drove a Datsun 280ZX. The current status of his finances are shrouded in secrecy to the broader public, but the affidavit reviewed by a federal magistrate let little doubt that he was not eligible for a lawyer on the taxpayer dime.
“I do not find that he is eligible for appointment of counsel,” U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey ruled during a status conference on Thursday, basing his decision on Meredith’s financial affidavit.
On the day of the U.S. Capitol siege, Meredith received a text message from an undisclosed person stating “Pence blew it.” Prosecutors say he replied with two words: “War time.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ahmed Muktadir Baset revealed during a hearing last month that Meredith never made it to that “war” because his truck malfunctioned on a long drive from Colorado to the nation’s capital. Authorities intercepted him during the long trip, allegedly finding an enormous stash of weapons in his vehicle.
Court papers quote Meredith’s profane and misogynistic rant appearing to plot Pelosi’s assassination: “Thinking about heading over to Pelosi CUNT’s speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on Live TV,” with a purple devil emoji after that line.
The remark even stunned Judge Harvey during a bail hearing on Jan. 14.
“If I had a more concerning threats case before me, I do not remember it,” Harvey remarked, in deciding to keep Meredith behind bars.
Pelosi wasn’t the only female politician whom prosecutors believe aroused Meredith’s rage: “I may wander over to the [office of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser] and put a 5.56 in her skull, FKG cunt.”
Those threatening words against a Black mayor shine a light on Meredith’s other quoted remarks during his brief time in Washington, D.C., before his arrest. Prosecutors claim that Meredith assaulted a city resident whom he head-butted in an act of “road rage” and then called someone the N-word.
For the time being, Meredith’s public defender, Ubong Akpan, will remain at his side until Meredith can hire a replacement.
Akpan only had been assigned to her client for less than a month, but during that time, she gave the court and public a window into Meredith’s defense, depicting the remarks as a “joke.” Prosecutors noted that the physical evidence shows Meredith wrote that he wanted to use “armor piercing bullets,” a form of ammunition that “just so happened” to be found in his vehicle.
Meredith’s words in his FBI interview will also be used to undercut his emerging defense.
Asked by the FBI about whether his threats were serious or a joke, Meredith replied: “It’s a little of both,” prosecutors say.
Since a grand jury has not yet indicted Meredith, a plea has not been entered in his case. His criminal complaint levels one count of transmitting interstate threat and two weapons offenses.
[image via government exhibit in the case U.S. v. Meredith]
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