Justice Dept. Considers Felony Charges Against Former Trump Legal Advisor

September 16, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
Justice Dept. Considers Felony Charges Against Former Trump Legal Advisor
In this Sept. 14, 2020, file photo, Jeff Clark, then-assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

WASHINGTON — A District of Columbia Bar court filing this week shows the Justice Department is considering charges of false statements, conspiracy and obstruction of justice against former Trump administration attorney Jeffrey Clark.

The D.C. Bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility is pursuing disciplinary proceedings against Clark for assisting former President Donald Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Clark asked the Board on Professional Responsibility, which regulates the legal profession, for a deferral from the disciplinary proceedings. The board denied his request in its written response.

The Board on Professional Responsibility gathered some of its evidence against Clark from the FBI and Justice Department’s investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol and Trump’s discredited allegations of election fraud.

Clark said his participation in the investigation means the disciplinary proceedings against him should be put off until after the Justice Department completes its prosecutions. More than 840 people have been arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.

Clark, 55, was assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division from 2018 to 2021.

Trump considered appointing Clark as head of the Justice Department for his assistance in casting doubt on the validity of the election results but backed off when faced with threats of massive resignations in protest. Clark resigned from the Justice Department on January 14, 2021, amid controversy over his post-election actions.

When confronted by D.C. Bar authorities about possible ethics violations, Clark revealed to them that on June 20 about a dozen Justice Department Office of the Inspector General agents executed a search warrant at his northern Virginia home and seized his electronic devices, according to the Board of Professional Responsibility’s written decision.

The warrant was “in connection with an investigation into violations” of federal statutes banning false statements, conspiracy and obstruction of justice, the board’s decision said.

Clark raised a separate argument in asking for the deferral by claiming exemption from local rules as a federal government attorney.

“Mr. Clark argues that a federal statute prohibits the District of Columbia’s Rules of Professional Conduct from applying to Department of Justice attorneys,” the Board on Professional Responsibility’s decision says. “He argues that attorneys barred in the District of Columbia can gain a license to practice by swearing to abide by the rules, but, if they work for the Department of Justice in the District of Columbia, they are not bound by the rules.”

The board’s decision said, “This argument however does not appear convincing.”

The case is In the Matter of Jeffrey B. Clark, Board Docket No. 22-BD-039, Disciplinary Docket No. 2021-D193, filed with D.C. Court of Appeals, Sept. 12, 2022.

Tom can be reached at [email protected] and @TomRamstack

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