In a blow to former Trump-era Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, a judge ruled on Friday that his Georgia election subversion case cannot be moved from state to federal court. The ruling by US District Judge Steve Jones is a setback for the defendants who were hoping to transfer their state prosecutions to the federal system, where they believed they could obtain more favorable trial conditions or invoke immunity protections for US government officials. Mark Meadows, former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, had previously made a similar request and was also denied by Judge Jones. Trump himself was expected to make the same request but decided against it recently.
All defendants in the Georgia case, including Clark, Trump, and Meadows, have pleaded not guilty. The case stems from events following the 2020 election, when Trump contacted Clark and sought to send letters to officials in states he lost, falsely alleging voting irregularities and urging them to intervene with the election results. Clark, who was the acting assistant attorney general at the time, was repeatedly rejected by his superiors who deemed his fraud claims baseless. However, Clark’s lawyers argued that he was acting in his federal capacity at the behest of Trump. Despite these arguments, Judge Jones ruled that Clark did not meet the evidentiary bar to warrant the transfer of his case to federal court.
Overall, this ruling represents a setback for Jeffrey Clark and the other defendants in the Georgia election subversion case who were seeking to move their prosecutions to federal court for potential advantages. The judge’s decision is in line with his previous rejection of a similar request from Mark Meadows. The case centers around Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results and Clark’s involvement in attempting to bolster baseless fraud claims. While all defendants have pleaded not guilty, they will now have to face trial in the state court system rather than in the federal system.