Trump Coup Lawyers Clark And Eastman Going Through Some Things With State Bars

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It’s a rough week for lawyers in Trumpland, as the Big Lie chickens are coming home to roost.

In California, Judge Yvette Roland of the State Bar Court issued a 128-page ruling transferring John Eastman to “involuntary inactive status” pending review by the state’s Supreme Court.

“Despite the depth, breadth, and complexity of the case law and historical context cited by the parties, this disciplinary proceeding boils down to an analysis of whether or not Eastman, in his role as the attorney for then-President Donald Trump (hereinafter referred to as President Trump) and his re-election campaign, acted dishonestly in his comments and advice given regarding the issue of whether then-Vice President Mike Pence (hereinafter referred to as Vice President Pence) had authority to unilaterally reject certain states’ slate of electors and/or delay or recess the electoral count during the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021, and the manner in which he pursued legal action aimed at obstructing the lawful electoral process,” she wrote.

Judge Roland found a comparator in Donald Segretti, a lawyer who figured in the Watergate scandal and who was disbarred for two years after he “repeatedly committed acts of deceit designed to subvert the free electoral process.”

Judge Roland notes that “Segretti had significant mitigation. He was only 30 years old at the time of the misconduct and thought he was acting under the umbrella of the White House.” Where Eastman is 63, and his infamous coup memos, written on behalf of the Trump campaign and not the White House, were a whole lot more serious than Segretti’s “dirty tricks.”

The scale and egregiousness of Eastman’s unethical actions far surpasses the misconduct at issue in Segretti. Unlike Segretti whose offenses occurred outside his role as an attorney, Eastman’s wrongdoing was committed directly in the course and scope of his representation of President Trump and the Trump Campaign. This is an important factor, as it constitutes a fundamental breach of an attorney’s core ethical duties. Additionally, while the Segretti court found compelling mitigation based on his expressed remorse and recognition of his wrongdoing, no such mitigating factor is present with Eastman. To the contrary, Eastman has exhibited an unwillingness to acknowledge any ethical lapses regarding his actions, demonstrating an apparent inability to accept responsibility. This lack of remorse and accountability presents a significant risk that Eastman may engage in further unethical conduct, compounding the threat to the public.

So as of now, Eastman is not licensed to practice law. This will be a great hardship to Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who retained the eminent scholar to represent them in their lawsuits against the cities of Anaheim and Riverdale for canceling their “America First” rallies in 2021.

Meanwhile on the right coast, former Trump DOJ official Jeff Clark was getting grilled by Hamilton Fox, Disciplinary Counsel for the DC Bar. Politico reports that Clark asserted all the privileges in his hearing before a panel of Bar officials, including executive and attorney-client, but most particularly the one that derives from the Fifth Amendment.

Clark spent months trying to escape discipline, even going so far as to try to remove his case to federal court on the theory that it violates the separation of powers to allow an organ of the DC government to police the conduct of an executive branch employee. He also made the fakakta argument that the none of the precedents of state bars disciplining government lawyers count because DC isn’t a state.

“To accept Mr. Clark’s position would be to subscribe to the absurd proposition that Congress chose to make these officials subject to jurisdictional rules of professional conduct everywhere except where they work,” Judge Rudolph Contreras scoffed, adding, “That D.C. is home to, by far, the most government lawyers in the country only compounds this absurdity.”

Clark has consistently maintained that he had good reason to believe that there was fraud in all the swing states, having done his own research on the internet. And thus his battle with his colleagues was just a difference of opinion, and not a breach of legal ethics. See, he believed that the DOJ should send out letters falsely claiming to have found evidence of fraud and suggesting that the state legislators ought to claw back Biden’s electoral votes and award them to Trump. And his colleagues thought that would be insane.

This week, he came face-to-face with those colleagues as several of them testified against him, including former Deputy AG Richard Donoghue, who famously snorted “You’re an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we’ll call you when there’s an oil spill,” during the Oval Office showdown where every high-ranking lawyer at the DOJ and White House threatened to quit if Trump went through with his plan to make Clark the acting Attorney General. In fact, Clark says that he actually was attorney general for a hot second on January 3, 2021. (Remember when Sidney Powell said that she was special counsel, and then she got un-special counseled when all the RINOs in the Trump White House ignored her and revoked her hall pass?)

“Mr. Clark had a different view than yourself as to what the department’s posture ought to be in the election controversies,” Clark’s attorney Harry MacDougald pressed Donoghue, according to Politico.

“Yes. Unfortunately, his wasn’t based on the facts and the law,” Donoghue replied.

Which is just good, clean fun! Meanwhile, Clark and Eastman are both charged in the sprawling RICO case in Georgia, so maybe the fun is just beginning.

D.C. bar investigators rest case against Jeffrey Clark [Politico]


Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she produces the Law and Chaos substack and podcast.


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