Jeffrey Clark becomes first Georgia defendant to formally oppose March 4 trial date
Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official charged alongside former President Trump on 2020 election-related crimes in Georgia, is opposing prosecutors’ request for a March trial.
Clark’s attorney called Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s (D) proposal “highly premature” and expressed concerns about her prosecution on multiple grounds.
“The indictment was filed at approximately 10:30 PM on Monday August 14, 2023, while the Motion was filed at 12:49 PM on August 16, 2023,” wrote Harry MacDougald, Clark’s attorney.
“To our knowledge, not one of the 19 defendants named in the indictment has been served with any warrant, taken into custody, had a first appearance, or been arraigned, or waived arraignment,” MacDougald continued.
After bringing the charges against Trump and 18 co-defendants stemming from an alleged plot to overturn Trump’s loss in the state, Willis filed the motion with the court urging a March 4, 2024, trial start.
Clark, a Justice Department official whom Trump wanted to appoint as attorney general to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud, is the first of the defendants to formally oppose the proposed schedule.
He was fixated on sending a letter to Georgia authorities asking them to hold off on certifying their election results while the department investigated. He is charged with racketeering and criminal attempt to commit false statements and writings.
MacDougald said neither he nor his client were contacted by Willis’s office prior to the indictment and prosecutors have not attempted to confer about the proposed schedule.
Clark’s opposition to the timeline previewed several strategies he may take to defend himself, including moving his case to federal court and asserting he had immunity because of his role in the Justice Department.
“The District Attorney chose to indict 19 people from all over the United States on a turgid and prolix conspiracy theory spread across 98 pages, 161 alleged overt acts, and 41 counts,” MacDougald wrote.
“Having built its proposed scaffolding for this matter in such a ponderous and complexified fashion, the District Attorney cannot now pretend as if this were a simple matter, such as a 2-page single-count indictment against a lone defendant who has already waived arraignment,” he added.
The proposed timeline would place the Georgia trial ahead of Trump’s two other scheduled criminal trials.
Trump’s Stormy Daniels hush money case in New York is slated to go to trial March 25, and the federal case probing his retention and alleged mishandling of classified documents is set to begin May 20. Trump and special counsel Jack Smith are currently battling over the trial date in his federal 2020 election case.
“For multiple reasons, we are gravely concerned about the political nature of this case and the steps taken by the State thus far,” MacDougald wrote. “The District Attorney’s proposed scheduling order is just one example of that overarching problem, as it could be interpreted as an attempt to stake out a place at the head of the line of prosecutors seeking the ‘prize’ of trying the former President before the 2024 presidential election.”