Hearing Monday on moving Jeffrey Clark’s Georgia case to federal court

September 18, 2023

A hearing wrapped without a ruling Monday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on whether former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark can move his Georgia 2020 election racketeering case to federal court.

Clark is one of five defendants seeking to move his case to federal court. The same U.S. District Judge, Steve Jones, who late last month rejected former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ request to move his trial to federal court was set to hear arguments Monday in Clark’s case.

During Monday’s three-hour hearing Jones said he would not accept a sworn statement from Clark as evidence in the case. Clark’s lawyers on Thursday had filed the 10-page statement outlining their client’s service in the DOJ, potentially in lieu of having him testify.

According to reports, Jones appeared visibly frustrated and annoyed at times during the hearing—to the point where Trump attorney Steve Sadow, who was in the courtroom, whispered, “This is not good.”

Clark and Meadows are among 19 co-defendants, including former President Trump, who were indicted by a grand jury last month related to attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election, following a more than two-year investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

All 19 are charged with racketeering. Clark is additionally charged with one count of criminal attempt to commit false statements and writings.

His indictment centers on two attempts he made to send a document he wrote to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston (R), and President Pro Tempore of the Georgia Senate Butch Miller (R) after the 2020 election.

Clark had initially emailed Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Acting Assistant Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue on December 28, 2020, asking for permission to notify the Georgia officials that the DOJ had “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia”—a claim that was untrue. The indictment alleges that five days later, he met Rosen and Donoghue and repeated the request in person.

In moving their cases to federal court, Clark and the four other co-defendants are hoping to be subject to a jury pool that includes a broader geographic region than just Fulton County, which is overwhelmingly Democratic. Further, unlike in Fulton County Court, a federal trial would not be televised.

Like the four other co-defendants, Clark argues that the actions for which he was indicted were undertaken on behalf of the federal government after the election, and thus their state charges should be tried in federal court—though that argument by Meadows was rejected by Judge Jones. 

Meadows, who is appealing Jones’ decision, testified in his own behalf during his hearing to move his case to federal court. It was not clear whether Clark will also testify at his own hearing. 

Jones said Monday he would make a decision on Clark’s request as soon as he could though he did not give a timeframe for his ruling.

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