Former Assistant Attorney General Jeff Clark decried selective leaks and the withholding of information from the general public as the nation waits in anticipation for former President Donald Trump to be arraigned on charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Bragg’s office confirmed an indictment against Trump on Thursday evening, but the indictment remains sealed ahead of Trump’s initial court appearance on Tuesday. Clark questioned the decision to announce the indictment and allow rumors about the case to circulate throughout the news media and general public for several days before the charges are actually revealed.
The indictment comes after Bragg’s office had been investigating Trump for his alleged involvement in a $130,000 payment in 2016 to adult entertainment actress Stormy Daniels by his lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen. The payment was allegedly made to stop Daniels from going public with her claim of an affair with Trump before the 2016 election. Trump denies the alleged affair.
“We haven’t seen the particulars. You know, there have been leaks like, ‘oh, there are 30-plus counts in it.’ We know that it involves the Stormy Daniels issue. But we haven’t seen it precisely. And so I can’t comment on it, particularly, but I think it’s a serious issue that we haven’t seen it,” Clark told NTD. “What is the conceivable rationale for issuing an announcement that an indictment has been handed down on a Thursday and then having an arraignment on Tuesday? It’s as if, you know, will the republic fall, will New York City collapse if the public knows five days or so in advance of the arraignment [Tuesday] what the charges are?”
Clark speculated that the indictment against Trump was announced days ahead of the announcement of the actual charges to undermine Trump’s ability to refute the charges in a direct appeal to the public.
“President Trump should be able to take his case to the people, his lawyer should be able to speak out about the indictment before the arraignment [Tuesday], but clearly some kind of decision was made to try to, you know, muffle President Trump,” Clark said. “And we’re also hearing that the judge may impose a gag order on President Trump.”
Clark also argued that the media is a major component of how anti-Trump prosecutors are shaping public opinion against the former president.
“[Prosecutors are] leaking things strategically to try to damage President Trump and his defense efforts,” Clark said. “That’s fundamentally unfair, and it’s designed, it seems to me, to manipulate the media. Every time there’s a new leak, every time there’s a new event in some investigation or case, MSNBC in particular, certain commentators on YouTube and CNN go into, you know, paroxysms of … ‘this is the one, … this time they’re going to get Trump.’ … ‘Justice is coming, the sky is falling on President Trump.'”
The former assistant attorney general said the slow drip of allegations by the prosecuting side makes it difficult for Trump or his lawyers to rebut the allegations.
“You don’t get to see a balanced presentation and a debate, a balanced debate, occur in the public sphere,” Clark said.
NTD reached out to the Manhattan DA’s office but did not receive a response before press time.
Other Cases Involving Trump
Clark said the Manhattan DA’s case against Trump is being handled similarly to other efforts to investigate and prosecute the former president or his political allies, such as the special counsel investigation into documents with classified markings that were found at his Mar-a-Lago home and the investigation into the Trump campaign team’s conversations with Georgia election officials following the 2020 election.
“We just hear leak after leak. Now, there are leaks about how there’s a new obstruction angle on the Mar-a-Lago documents case that the special counsel, Jack Smith, is looking at,” Clark said.
“First of all, those leaks shouldn’t be occurring; and second of all, it’s kind of unilateral disarmament for President Trump,” Clark added. “He doesn’t see everything; the other side can, and the other side can and they can strategically release new pieces of information when they want to.”
Clark similarly criticized the partial release (pdf) of information from a special purpose grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, which appears to stem from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s investigation of whether Trump or his team violated Georgia laws with phone calls to election officials after the 2020 election. Following the partial release of these grand jury materials, jury forewoman and 30-year-old Fulton County resident Emily Kohrs made the rounds with several media outlets, hinting at possible charges to come in the case.
Clark said he believes negative responses to Kohrs’s media appearances may have thrown off the timeline for Willis to announce charges in the case.
“The district attorney down there, Fani Willis, seems to be behind schedule,” Clark said. “She’d promised something imminent, and we obviously don’t know exactly what the definition of imminent is … but I think that there’s kind of trouble with that case because of how the special grand jury process unfolded.”
Last month, Trump’s legal team filed a motion to quash the materials from the Fulton County special purpose grand jury. The motion to quash cites Kohrs’s media tour, Willis’s own alleged conflicts of interest by making the Trump investigation an element of her campaign, and the “unconstitutionally vague” nature of the case.
Clark’s Connection to Trump
Clark himself has been swept up in previous efforts to investigate the Trump team’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election results. Clark allegedly pitched a plan on Dec. 28, 2020, for the Department of Justice to announce a probe into voting irregularities in Georgia and to recommend that the state’s legislature convene a special session to consider an alternate slate of electors. Clark was also allegedly considered in a plan in early 2021 to replace Jeffrey Rosen as the acting U.S. attorney general.
The Department of Justice searched Clark’s home in June of last year. A District of Columbia Bar report alleged the search was carried out “in connection with an investigation into violations” of laws prohibiting making false statements to the government, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.
Russ Vought, president of the Center for Renewing America, where Clark is a fellow, defended his colleague following the June 2022 raid, saying the investigations and search of Clark’s home were “all because Jeff saw fit to want to investigate voter fraud.”