Two co-defendants in the Georgia election case have joined Mark Meadows, the former Trump White House chief of staff, in attempting to move their charges to federal court.
Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, and David Shafer, one of the state’s fake electors, both filed notices of removal Monday. Clark is also attempting to block Fulton County from arresting him by urging an immediate pause of the state proceedings.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) last week charged former President Trump and 18 others in a sprawling, 41-count indictment stemming from their efforts to overturn the 2020 election result.
Meadows, Clark and Shafer are the first of the co-defendants to attempt the move to federal court, which would come with a federal judge and a potentially more Republican-heavy jury pool compared to the state court. Meadows filed his removal notice last week.
All three men argue their charges must be moved because they are connected to their roles as federal officers and they will assert federal defenses, including immunity and First Amendment arguments.
“He was a high-ranking U.S. Justice Department official at all relevant times applicable to the Fulton County Action and the allegations therein relate directly to his work at the Justice Department as well as with the former President of the United States,” wrote Harry MacDougald, Clark’s attorney.
Shafer’s attorneys similarly wrote that his conduct “stems directly from his service as a Presidential Elector nominee acting under the authority of the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act.”
Clark also went a few steps further, asserting asserted that the entire case — not just his charges — must be moved to federal court based on the relevant precedent.
He also is seeking to move to federal court the special grand jury proceedings, which did not vote on the indictment but previously heard testimony and recommended charges.
Clark suggested that adding the special grand jury to the removal notice requires the state criminal proceedings to be automatically paused.
Clark has asked for an emergency ruling to put on hold his arrest until the removal matter is resolved. A judge ordered Willis’s office to respond to Clark in writing by Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET.
“The Fulton County Action took advantage of civil proceedings to augment the powers of an ordinary grand jury in Georgia with the powers of a special purpose grand jury,” Clark’s attorney wrote. “This voluntary choice by the State requires the State to take the bitter with the sweet, for the State cannot work such a fusion of civil and criminal powers and thereafter deny the impact of using those civil powers as a launchpad for this case.”
Willis has given the co-defendants a Friday deadline to surrender voluntarily or face an arrest warrant. Bail bondsman Scott Hall turned himself in Tuesday, becoming the first of the defendants to do so; Trump said he plans to surrender himself Thursday.
— Updated 1:29 p.m.