Former Justice Department attorney Jeffrey B. Clark is fighting to move his disciplinary hearing to keep his Washington law license into federal court, arguing that the man in charge of punishing D.C. attorneys is wielding too much power.
Mr. Clark’s attorney Charles Burnham announced Monday they want his legal battle to occur in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia instead of the D.C. court system, arguing Hamilton Fox III, disciplinary counsel for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which probs D.C. Bar complaints, is pursuing action against Mr. Clark due to an anti-Trump bias.
Mr. Clark, who has been a member of the District of Columbia Bar since 1997, is facing sanctions — or even losing his law license — over advice he gave former President Donald Trump about the 2020 election.
“The head of the DC Office of Disciplinary Counsel dislikes the advice he believes Mr. Clark gave to former President Trump when he headed two of DOJ’s seven litigating Divisions from late 2020 into early 2021. This is a flagrant misuse of the disciplinary function because no state bars, let alone the local D.C. Bar, have jurisdiction to supervise the advice rendered by presidential advisors or circulated purely inside the halls of the Justice Department,” Mr. Burnham said.
He argued Mr. Fox would have too much power if he can control who is licensed to practice law in D.C. since it contains more government lawyers than other jurisdictions.
“If this power grab by the DC Bar is successful, it will transform the head of the DC Office of Disciplinary Counsel, a local government official, into the most powerful lawyer in the country, granting him a permanent supervisory role and veto over the highest counsels of the federal government,” Mr. Burnham said.
It’s the most recent notable pushback against Mr. Fox, who is also pursuing punishment against former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who acted as Mr. Trump’s attorney.
A spokesperson from the D.C. Bar would not comment on the request to move Mr. Clark’s case into federal court.
He filed charges against the ex-DOJ official in July, arguing Mr. Clark sought to upend President Biden’s 2020 victory in exchange for Mr. Trump making him acting attorney general.
“Respondent attempted to engage in conduct that would seriously interfere with the administration of justice,” Mr. Fox wrote in a court filing.
In December, Mr. Fox will present his disciplinary hearing against Mr. Giuliani, who he also alleges violated attorney ethics by representing Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania litigation challenging the 2020 election results in that swing state.
Other pro-Trump attorneys who challenged the 2020 election results are also facing disciplinary complaints across the country.
The 65 Project, a legal group aimed at filing ethics complaints against lawyers who aided Mr. Trump’s election fight in courts, has lodged complaints in several states, recently filing allegations against 15 former and current red-state attorneys general that backed Texas in contesting Pennsylvania’s 2020 results.
The group also targeted another DOJ attorney, Kenneth Klukowski, who the group says worked alongside Mr. Clark in contesting the election results.
The 65 Project also filed complaints against Jenna Ellis, who worked with Mr. Giuliani in representing Mr. Trump.