Mark Meadows notably took to the court last month to try to convince a judge that his Georgia prosecution should proceed in federal court rather than state court, where Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis , brought the case. But that testimony didn’t bear fruit for the former White House chief of staff, as it wasn’t enough to convince U.S. District Judge Steve Jones that his case should be moved.
Meadows is appealing Jones’ decision but, if it stands, it is not only a loss for Meadows but perhaps for one of his co-defendants seeking deportation. That’s because Meadows arguably has the strongest claim to go to Federal Court, given his role as chief of staff at the time. To obtain dismissal, one of the things a defendant must demonstrate is that the alleged conduct was related to such a federal role — which Meadows nevertheless failed to demonstrate, according to Jones.
It is against this backdrop that a deportation hearing in federal court was held Monday for one of Meadows’ 18 co-defendants, Jeffrey Clark. After the hearing, it appears Clark could face the same fate as Jones refusing his dismissal.
On the one hand, Meadows at least showed up to his audience. The same cannot be said for Clark. Instead, the former Justice Department lawyer filed a written statement in advance that he apparently wanted to use in lieu of testifying. But the judge said the statement could not be entered into evidence, so unlike Meadows, Clark did not even put himself in the position of offering evidence directly, without saying whether such evidence would be compelling.
The argument for Clark’s expulsion not only appears to rest on flimsy legal ground, but was presented without sufficient admissible evidence to begin with.
The reason that matters is that the burden is on the defendant to prove that their case should be transferred from state court to federal court. It’s not like it’s a trial for the charges themselves – whether the trial is in state or federal court – where the prosecution has the burden of proving the case at all. beyond all reasonable doubt.
This dismissal charge is apparently what led Meadows to testify in his so-far unsuccessful attempt. And although Jones ultimately rejected the merits of Meadows’ request, the judge may have an even easier time rejecting Clark’s, if he finds that the former DOJ official’s inability to testify or providing sufficient and admissible evidence is in itself sufficient to show that he did not do so. discharged the burden of his dismissal.
Making the deportation case even more difficult for Clark, the prosecution presented its own evidence. The state called to the stand Jody Hunt, who served as chief of the DOJ’s civil division until July 2020 — a role Clark took over on an acting basis two months later. NBC News reported that Hunt said the job had nothing to do with voter fraud investigations.
This evidence runs counter to Clark’s expulsion argument that he was acting within the scope of his official duties for the offending conduct, with Georgia prosecutors pointing to a letter he wrote that falsely claimed the DOJ had “identified significant concerns that could have impacted the outcome of the election in several states, including the state of Georgia. Clark wanted top DOJ officials to sign and send the false statement to Georgia officials, Willis alleged in his racketeering indictment.
Clark’s attorney argued at the deportation hearing that his client’s actions were authorized by then-President Donald Trump (another co-defendant in the case). But Jones seemed skeptical that the claim was not supported by evidence, the Washington Post reported.
So, to recap, the argument for Clark’s expulsion not only appears to rest on shaky legal ground, but was presented without sufficient admissible evidence to begin with.
Given that Jones easily eliminated Meadows’ attempt, which was stronger at least in terms of presenting evidence, we should expect the judge to reach the same conclusion for Clark – that he did not no right to revocation by the Federal Court either.
Meadows has an appeal pending before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, so we don’t yet know if Jones’ ruling will stand. But for now, it appears Clark’s efforts will also fail in this first step in district court. We now await official word from Jones on the matter.