Ex-Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark can't move Georgia case to federal court, a judge says
A judge on Friday rejected a request by former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark to move the Georgia election subversion charges against him from state court to federal court.
Clark was one of five defendants who sought to have the charges against him moved from Fulton County Superior Court to federal court. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled against Clark after rejecting a similar request from Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The judge is weighing the same question from three Georgia Republicans who falsely certified that then-President Donald Trump won in 2020.
A grand jury in Atlanta last month indicted Clark along with Trump, Meadows and 16 others. The indictment accuses him of participating in a wide-ranging scheme to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory and keep the Republican Trump in power. All 19 defendants have pleaded not guilty.
The indictment says Clark wrote a letter after the election that said the Justice Department had “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia” and asked top department officials to sign it and send it to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and state legislative leaders. Clark knew at the time that that statement was false, the indictment alleges.
Clark’s attorneys had argued that the actions described in the indictment related directly to his work as a federal official at the Justice Department. Clark at the time was the assistant attorney general overseeing the environment and natural resources division and was the acting assistant attorney general over the civil division.
The practical effects of moving to federal court would have been a jury pool that includes a broader area and is potentially more conservative than Fulton County alone and a trial that would not be photographed or televised, as cameras are not allowed inside federal courtrooms. But it would not have opened the door for Trump, if he’s reelected in 2024, or another president to issue pardons because any conviction would still happen under state law.