The Legal Architects of Trump’s Failed Coup May Finally Face Real Consequences.

The intellectual ringleaders of Donald Trump's failed coup are finally facing the threat of serious consequences for their integral roles in the legal plot to overturn the 2020 election.

No lawyers did more than John Eastman and Jeffrey Bossert Clark to try to hand Trump an unearned second term. Eastman developed and promoted the theory that Vice President Mike Pence could reject Joe Biden's victory, then endorsed it at the Jan. 6 rally that fomented the insurrection. Clark urged his Justice Department superiors to pressure several legislatures into awarding their electoral votes to Trump even though Biden carried their states. Both men remain practicing attorneys.

Now, however, their ability to practice law is under threat. On Monday, a bipartisan group of lawyers, including two former federal judges, asked the California bar to investigate Eastman. One day later, a different bipartisan group of lawyers, including two top-ranking Justice Department officials under George H.W. Bush, asked the D.C. Court of Appeals' disciplinary panel to investigate Clark.These requests could lead to the revocation of Eastman's and Clark's license to practice law, a critical first step toward stigmatizing the malignant theories both men pushed for months. Given that the conservative legal movement has refused to criticize their work as out of bounds, the complaints also provide a new opportunity for the mainstream legal establishment to confirm that a lawyer who tries to overthrow an election has proved himself unfit to practice law.

Both letters are supported by a remarkable roster of heavyweights. The Eastman letter was signed by retired judges on the state and federal level, state attorneys general, U.S. attorneys, and governors. It highlights Eastman's key role in the development of the theory that Pence could toss out Biden's victory on Jan. 6 when counting electoral votes. In two memos, Eastman laid out a putative pathway for Pence to unilaterally reject Biden electors from seven states, effectively disenfranchising tens of millions of Americans. He championed this idea at Jan. 6's "Stop the Steal" rally onstage with Rudy Giuliani (whose law license was later suspended). And he spread baseless conspiracy theories all the while, insisting that Trump lost due to widespread fraud of which there was no evidence. (On Jan. 6, he claimed that Democratic operatives hid Biden votes in a "secret folder" within voting machines.) Eastman also filed a brief on Trump's behalf asking the Supreme Court to overturn the election by nullifying millions of valid votes.

The Eastman letter, which was spearheaded by the States United Democracy Center, alleges that these and other unscrupulous actions violated both the California Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act. These rules prohibit attorneys from assisting a client "in conduct that the lawyer knows" to be fraudulent, illegal, or deceptive. They also bar lawyers from making any knowing or reckless "false statement of material fact or law." Throughout his crusade, Eastman continually lied about both the facts and the law, alleging nonexistent voter fraud while asserting that Pence could throw the election through a laughably unlawful scheme. The letter asks the California bar to investigate this unethical legal work, a process that could lead to Eastman's disbarment.

Like the Eastman letter, the Clark letter drew support from an all-star cast of lawyers across the political spectrum. Donald Ayer, deputy attorney general under George H.W. Bush, signed, as did his former colleague Stuart Gerson, who served as acting attorney general under Bush. The letter lays out Clark's corrupt efforts to throw the Justice Department behind Trump's plan to overturn the election. Although he joined the DOJ as an environmental lawyer, Clark ascended to assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's civil division in Trump's final months. In this capacity, he hatched a plot to coerce swing states' legislatures into denying the legitimacy of Biden's victory and to award their electors to Trump instead. In a draft letter, Clark alleged that mass voter fraud had tainted the race, requiring legislatures to toss out the results—exclusively in states won by Biden—and declare Trump the true winner. When acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen refused to send this letter to seven state legislatures, Clark launched a conspiracy with Trump to oust Rosen and seize his position.

Like California's, the District of Columbia's ethics rules forbid attorneys from engaging in "dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation." The courts have interpreted this prohibition to encompass "conduct evincing a lack of honesty, probity or integrity in principle," as well as "recklessly false misrepresentations" of facts and law. D.C. law also bars lawyers from engaging in "conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice." The Clark letter argues that Clark ran afoul of these rules by lying about nonexistent voter fraud—then using these lies as the basis to interfere with the election by persuading states to illegally certify Trump as the winner. Put simply, Clark tried to thwart "the administration of justice" by endorsing the president's illicit conspiracy on behalf of the United States.

Mark Joseph Stern, Slate, October 5, 2021


October 8, 2021

Voices4America Post Script. More and more information develops about Trump’s attempts to overturn our election. More and more information develops about 2 Lawyers who enabled his coups attempts- John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark. First, Disbarment! #DisbarEastman #DisbarClark

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