Attorneys File Ethics Complaint Against Ex-DOJ Official Over Election Claims

Attorneys File Ethics Complaint Against Ex-DOJ Official Over Election Claims doj headquarters The U.S. Department of Justice headquarters, July 25, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Tuesday, 05 October 2021 11:05 AM

A group of top attorneys is calling for the disciplinary panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals to investigate Jeffrey Clark, a former assistant attorney general, who allegedly tried to use his position to nullify former President Donald Trump’s election defeat.

The request came in an ethics complaint against Clark dated Tuesday filed by the attorneys in a 15-page letter.

"We take this action because we believe, from publicly available information, that Mr. Clark violated the Rules of Professional Conduct when he sought to have the Department of Justice set in motion a process that would have nullified the 2020 Presidential election results in multiple states," they said. "Mr. Clark's actions were based on falsehoods with no factual support and were designed to advance his own personal and political interests at the expense of his client, the government of the United States.

"This complaint is not about politics, political beliefs or political alliances. It is instead about law, in the form of ethical rules that govern the conduct of every lawyer who practices in the District of Columbia, from the solo practitioner to the Attorney General of the United States. There is substantial evidence that Mr. Clark violated those rules as he took deliberate steps that seriously risked electoral chaos and a constitutional crisis."

The complaint is signed by 32 attorneys, including former D.C. Bar president Melvin White, former acting attorney general Stuart Gerson, and Susan Carle, a law professor at American University. According to The Hill, the coalition of attorneys is led by the group Lawyer Defending American Democracy.

The outlet noted the group had previously filed complaints against Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s Attorney General William Barr, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

"Mr. Clark made false statements about the integrity of the election in a concerted effort to disseminate an official statement of the United Stated Department of Justice that the election results in multiple states were unreliable," the complaint alleges. "While his conduct mirrored that of other lawyers who have been sanctioned for false statements, they operated on a considerably more dangerous scale with commensurately greater risk to our democracy. Mr. Clark’s activities require investigation…"

After the election, Clark "sent his superiors, Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, a letter he had drafted and ask them to join him in signing it," the complaint stated. The letter was addressed to Georgia state officials.

"The opening paragraph read: 'The Department of Justice is investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for President of the United States. The Department will update you as we are able on investigatory progress, but at this time we have identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia. No doubt many of Georgia's state legislators are aware of irregularities, sworn to by a variety of witnesses, and we have taken notice of their complaints.'

"Those statements were false, for the Department had neither identified nor held any such concerns."

The Hill noted the plan was turned down by both Rosen and Donoghue.

The lawyers concluded their complaint by urging the panel "to address the conduct of Mr. Clark with the same seriousness, dispatch, and transparency exhibited by these other tribunals."

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