Trump’s Georgia co-defendants start to turn on ex-president

Jeffrey Clark’s lawyer was trying to demonstrate that his client was simply working in his capacity as a DOJ official in an effort to move the case to federal court

Kelly Rissman
Tuesday 19 September 2023 21:08 BST
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Donald Trump arrives at Fulton County Jail to be arrested in Georgia

Jeffrey Clark, one of the 18 people indicted in the Fulton County, Georgia, election case, pointed fingers at Donald Trump, saying he was pushed to investigate the 2020 election fraud claims at the direction of the former president.

The former assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s environment and natural resources division was indicted — alongside a group that includes Mr Trump — for his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

At the time, Mr Clark had drafted a letter to Georgia election officials saying that the Justice Department was looking into supposed irregularities that occurred in the state’s election.

On Monday, however, a lawyer for Mr Clark argued that he only wrote the letter at the direction of then-president Donald Trump.

This claim was made as part of an effort to move Mr Clark’s case to federal court. His lawyer, Harry MacDougald, was trying to demonstrate that his client was acting within the scope of his duties as a DOJ official.

Mr MacDougald argued that it was “simply impossible” for Mr Clark to do what he was charged with if he had not been acting as a federal official, the Washington Post reported.

Mr Clark did not appear in court, but instead filed a sworn declaration on 14 September. The newspaper said that in this declaration, while Mr Clark emphasised that he acted in his role as a federal official, he did not mention that he had been directed by Mr Trump.

Jeffrey Clark mug shot
Jeffrey Clark mug shot (Fulton County Sheriff’s Office)

It’s unclear how the judge will receive Mr Clark’s plea to move the case to federal court. Not only were others’ requests to have their cases moved — à la Mark Meadows — denied, but some seemed to have already debunked Mr Clark’s argument.

In 2020, Mr Clark was also appointed acting head of the DOJ’s civil division. Jody Hunt, who preceded Mr Clark in that role, previously testified to the court that it was not within the civil division’s role to deal with election interference or voter fraud.

Mr Clark and Mr Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Mark Meadows, and others were indicted in August. He was charged under the RICO Act and faces a count of making a criminal attempt to create false statements and writings.

He had drafted a letter to Georgia officials claiming that the Justice Department had “identified significant concerns” about the results and should consider sending “a separate slate of electors” supporting Mr Trump.

The former DOJ official isn’t the only Fulton County co-defendant to throw Mr Trump under the bus.

Last month, David Shafer, the former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, claimed in a court filing that he merely “acted at the direction of the incumbent President and other federal officials.”

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