Ethics Board Moves to Penalize Jeffrey Clark, Who Aided Trump in Election Plot


WASHINGTON — A disciplinary board is moving to penalize Jeffrey Clark, the former Justice Department official who worked to undo the results of the 2020 election, including the possibility of disbarment.

A complaint filed this week by the D.C. Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which governs lawyers in Washington, accused Mr. Clark of interfering in the administration of justice in his bid to keep President Donald J. Trump in power.

The ethics complaint comes as the Justice Department’s watchdog and federal prosecutors are also scrutinizing Mr. Clark for his efforts to wield the department’s authority to falsely persuade election officials and the American public that Mr. Trump had won the presidential race.

Mr. Clark “attempted to engage in conduct involving dishonesty” and “attempted to engage in conduct that would seriously interfere with the administration of justice,” the complaint said.

Once Mr. Clark receives the complaint, he has 20 days to respond to the accusations, according to a filing by the D.C. Bar. Mr. Clark and his lawyers can present evidence in his defense and cross-examine witnesses. Should he lose his case, the board could ultimately strip him of his law license.

Mr. Clark did not respond to a request for comment.

Rachel Semmel, a spokeswoman for the Center for Renewing America, where Mr. Clark is a senior fellow, called Mr. Clark “an American hero” and said that the ethics complaint was “the latest attack on the legal qualifications of one of the only lawyers at the Department of Justice who had the interests of the American people at heart.”

The complaint was earlier reported by Law & Crime.

Mr. Clark largely flew under the radar at the Justice Department. In 2018, he was confirmed to run the environmental and natural resources division, and he took on the additional role of acting chief of the civil division after its leader resigned in the summer of 2020.

But he drew national attention after The New York Times reported that he had been part of an attempt to overthrow the Justice Department’s leadership in order to wield the agency’s power to keep Mr. Trump in office.

The complaint focuses on that effort, which included John Eastman, a lawyer close to Mr. Trump; Kenneth Klukowski, a White House official who began working with Mr. Clark at the Justice Department after the election; and Representative Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, who was one of Mr. Trump’s top allies in Congress.

The complaint outlines the numerous times that the acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and the acting deputy attorney general, Richard P. Donoghue, told Mr. Clark that they had found no evidence to support allegations of widespread election fraud.

Nevertheless, the complaint says that on Dec. 28, Mr. Clark asked Mr. Klukowski to research whether state legislatures could submit unauthorized slates of electors to Congress.

Mr. Clark reportedly used that research to draft a “proof-of-concept letter” to Georgia state election officials, falsely stating that fraud affected the state’s election results. The letter urged the state legislature to convene a special session and reconsider the slate of electors who had cast their ballots for Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue refused Mr. Clark’s entreaties to sign and send the letter. Within a week, Mr. Clark informed them that the president planned to install him as acting attorney general, a plan that top Justice Department officials and White House lawyers ultimately derailed.

Last month, federal investigators carried out an early-morning search of Mr. Clark’s Virginia home in connection with the inspector general’s investigation into efforts by former Justice Department officials to overturn the 2020 election.

Federal prosecutors in Washington are also digging into the broader plan by Mr. Trump’s allies to have key swing states submit to Congress slates of electors falsely stating that Mr. Trump had won.

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