Ex-DOJ lawyer charged in Trump case assails prosecution as political

A former top U.S. Department of Justice lawyer charged as part of the Donald Trump racketeering case accused Fulton County prosecutors of playing politics by proposing a trial date just days before Georgia’s presidential primary.

In a filing late Thursday, a lawyer for Jeffrey Clark said it was premature of Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis to suggest a March 4 start for a trial in the case, which involves 19 defendants and 41 felony counts.

“For multiple reasons, we are gravely concerned about the political nature of this case and the steps taken by the State thus far,” read the motion from Atlanta lawyer Harry W. MacDougald, which was filed in Fulton County Superior Court.

He said the DA’s timetable “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.”

“The legal significance of the manifest politicization of this case, as the District Attorney has pursued it and is attempting to frame it, will be the subject of future filings,” it continued.

Georgia’s presidential primary is March 12 and Trump is the heavy favorite to again win the Republican nomination for the White House.

Clark, a former assistant U.S. attorney general, is the first of the 19 defendants to challenge Willis’s proposed scheduling order which she submitted on Wednesday to Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee. In addition to asking for a March 4 trial date, Willis also called for defendants to appear for arraignment on their charges the week of Sept. 5.

McAfee will ultimately make decisions about scheduling. He has yet to announce any hearings.

In the five-page fling, MacDougald said Willis had never contacted Clark during her investigation and he asserted Clark had yet to receive an arrest warrant.

In December 2020, Clark drafted a letter on government letterhead stating that DOJ had “significant concerns” about fraud that may have affected the outcome of the election in Georgia and other states, even though no such concerns existed. The letter urged Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and other state leaders to convene a special session of the General Assembly to invalidate official election results and select the winner themselves.

Clark’s bosses at DOJ refused to send the letter. Trump briefly considered appointing him to be acting attorney general but backed down after senior officials threatened to resign in protest.

Clark was charged with violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) and criminal attempt to commit false statements and writings.