A federal judge dismissed former Assistant Attorney General Jeff Clark’s attempt to transfer the Fulton County, Georgia, criminal indictment to federal court. This Friday’s ruling by Obama appointee Steve Jones is seen as a concerning lack of consideration for the executive branch of government. Unless overturned on appeal, it may jeopardize the confidentiality and frank discussions vital to the executive branch.
Clark had made an effort to transfer the extensive grand jury indictment, secured by Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis against him and 18 co-defendants, including the former president, to federal court.
Judge Jones dismissed Clark’s attempt to transfer the case, ruling that the former assistant attorney general had not provided enough evidence to demonstrate a clear causal connection between his drafting of a letter on December 28, 2020, addressed to the Georgia governor, speaker of the House and president pro tempore of the Senate, and his role as the assistant attorney general for the Civil Division of the DOJ.
NEW: Federal judge denies former DOJ official Jeff Clark's request to move 2020 Georgia election interference charges to federal court, writing that Clark wasn't acting within scope of his office re: a draft letter falsely claiming election fraud. #gapolhttps://t.co/dAnIEKb5iB
— stephen fowler (@stphnfwlr) September 29, 2023
The draft letter, which Clark had submitted to his DOJ superiors, including Jeff Rosen, the then-acting attorney general, and Richard Donoghue, the then-acting deputy attorney general, mentioned the DOJ was “investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for president of the United States.” It also indicated “significant concerns” that may have influenced the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia.
Both Rosen and Donoghue declined to endorse the letter, as they disagreed with Clark’s evaluation and the appropriateness of the Justice Department’s involvement in the Georgia election dispute.
Subsequently, President Trump convened a meeting in the Oval Office, attended by Rosen, Donoghue, and Clark, along with “six other senior administration lawyers from DOJ and the White House.” During this meeting, lasting more than three hours, the group deliberated on Clark’s draft letter, after which Trump opted against sending it.
Clark faced charges from Fulton County prosecutors for his role in drafting the letter and advocating for its transmission to Georgia officials. He was accused of a “criminal attempt to commit false statements and writings.”
However, despite the fact that Clark had composed the letter on December 28, 2020, within his DOJ office and utilized DOJ equipment, presented it to his superiors through his DOJ email account, and participated in a meeting that encompassed the then-president of the United States where he advocated for the letter, Judge Jones determined that the charges lacked a clear causal connection to his role as the assistant attorney general for the Civil Division. This conclusion was reached because there was “no evidence that the President directed Clark to work on election-related matters generally or to write the December 28 letter to the Georgia State Officials on their election procedures.”
In essence, the federal court denied Clark the opportunity to bring forth his immunity and other defenses in a federal setting unless he revealed what would have been confidential communications with the president.