Former Trump-era Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark has been denied the ability to move his Georgia election subversion case from state to federal court. The ruling by US District Judge Steve Jones is a setback for Clark and other defendants who were seeking more favorable trial conditions or potential immunity protections in the federal system. The decision follows a similar rejection of a request from Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to Donald Trump. All defendants in the Georgia case, including Clark, Trump, and Meadows, have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In 2020, Clark, as the acting assistant attorney general, reportedly worked with Trump to send letters to officials in states that Trump lost, falsely claiming that the Justice Department had uncovered voting irregularities. However, Clark’s proposals were repeatedly rejected by his superiors, who deemed the fraud claims baseless. During the court hearing, Clark’s lawyers argued that he was acting in his federal capacity at the behest of Trump. However, Judge Jones ruled that Clark did not meet the evidentiary threshold to support this argument.
In addition to Clark’s case, the ruling also applies to three individuals, known as fake GOP electors, who sought to undermine the Electoral College in 2020. Their theory that they were acting as federal officers was also rejected by Judge Jones. Prosecutors accuse these individuals of signing phony certificates proclaiming Trump’s victory in Georgia and falsely claiming to be duly elected and qualified electors. Several other Georgia Republicans who signed the certificates have reached cooperation deals with prosecutors.