The Office of Disciplinary Counsel at the D.C. Bar filed ethics charges this week against Jeffrey Clark, a former lawyer at the Department of Justice who, when on the job, was in support of Trump’s election subversion plots and was considered by Trump as a replacement for the then-acting Attorney General.
The charges — which aren’t criminal in nature — hinge in part on an infamous letter that Clark wanted sent from the Justice Department to officials in Georgia containing false statements related to the last election. The letter claimed, among other things, that department officials identified issues that could’ve altered the outcome of the presidential election in Georgia and other states — but that simply wasn’t true. No actual concerns were isolated by the department that could’ve actually changed the way the election turned out. (No credible authority anywhere else in the country identified such issues either.) An available filing outlining the charges against Clark also singles out other false claims. Among other examples, the draft missive alleged the department was concerned by the course of election-related litigation in Fulton County, Georgia — but the department evidently had no position on the matter.
The ethics charges also specify false claims including the insistence the department determined the governor should summon a special legislative session to deal with election-related issues and the follow-up claim state legislators had the authority to start such a session themselves. The department actually reached no such conclusions. Accordingly, top officials including then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue refused to sign Clark’s letter, and it was never sent out. Clark is specifically alleged to have violated rules governing lawyers’ conduct. The charges claim he “attempted to engage in conduct involving dishonesty” and “attempted to engage in conduct that would seriously interfere with the administration of justice.”
The allegations against Clark were filed with a Washington, D.C. entity under the D.C. appeals court called the Board on Professional Responsibility, which would subsequently be referring the matter to a Hearing Committee. A later hearing on the matter sounds like it’ll be court-like in the way it runs, with cross-examination, an opportunity for legal representation for Clark, and the presentation of evidence. Any eventual conclusion favoring discipline for Clark, which could include disbarment, would evidently require additional review by the D.C. Court of Appeals before its implementation.
Clark is also facing scrutiny from the Justice Department. In connection to a department probe into 2020 election-related matters, his residence was recently searched. Before that development, there’d been no apparent public indication Clark was facing that level of federal examination. Around that time and since, news of Justice Department scrutiny of a variety of other Trump allies also came out: grand jury subpoenas went out to the chairs of the Arizona and Georgia GOPs, and the chair of the Nevada GOP saw his phone seized. All were targeted in relation to the scheme to assemble fake electoral votes for Trump. Other action targeting attorneys involved in attempted subversion of the 2020 election includes a court case filed in Texas against state Attorney General Ken Paxton in connection to the infamous post-election court case challenging the 2020 election outcome in a series of states Biden won. The Texas Bar entity challenging Paxton in court is called the Commission for Lawyer Discipline. Consequences for Paxton could also include disbarment.