States United Democracy Center Highlights New Legal Accountability Options for January 6 Select Committee

As Committee Wraps Up Investigation, Letter Outlines Options for Professional Discipline to Hold Democracy Violators Accountable

12.01.2022

Washington, D.C. — The States United Democracy Center today urged the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (Select Committee) to take additional steps to pursue accountability against those who participated in the months-long effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. In a letter, States United highlighted the Select Committee’s options to hold accountable the attorneys who led and contributed to those efforts—which helped fuel the violent attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power on January 6—by referring non-public information gathered during the investigation to state bar disciplinary authorities.  

The letter focuses on nine attorneys who were included in the Committee’s subpoena to former President Trump: Jeffrey Clark, John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, Boris Epshteyn, Christina Bobb, and Cleta Mitchell. 

“These attorneys swore an oath to uphold the rule of law and the Constitution; the Select Committee can help ensure they are held accountable if they violated their ethical responsibilities,” said Aaron Scherzer, Senior Counsel at the States United Democracy Center. “The Select Committee is uniquely suited to pursue this accountability. Their professional investigators spent more than a year compiling evidence against attorneys and others in Trump’s inner circle who assisted in his efforts to discredit and overturn the 2020 presidential election. In doing so, they’ve gathered a plethora of information about these nine attorneys that would be valuable to state bars investigating their professional conduct.” 

In the letter, States United: 

  • Addresses why the Select Committee is uniquely well suited to make referrals about attorney misconduct to state bars, given their access to non-public information through their investigation; 
  • Provides background on existing disciplinary actions against or ongoing investigations into the nine attorneys; 
  • Reviews the Select Committee’s inherent authority to make bar referrals; and 
  • Outlines various options the Committee has in making bar referrals, ranging from inclusion of the information in its final report to filing individual bar complaints with an analysis of the legal ethics rules that were broken and a request for an investigation, which could be modeled after the Watergate Road Map. 

“The Select Committee’s accountability work should not end here. There is serious evidence of professional misconduct by John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, and the other attorneys included in the Committee’s subpoena to former President Trump. In addition to potential criminal and civil referrals for those involved in January 6, the Select Committee has the inherent authority to refer these attorneys for legal ethics investigation to determine whether their law licenses should be suspended or revoked,” said Christine P. Sun, Senior Vice President of Legal at the States United Democracy Center 

Key excerpts from the letter include: 

“In addition to any appropriate criminal referrals, the Select Committee should consider making available to state bar disciplinary authorities the evidence it has gathered about the actions of attorneys discussed in this letter: Jeffrey Clark, John Eastman, Rudolph Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, Boris Epshteyn, Christina Bobb, and Cleta Mitchell. Lawyers, particularly those who represent elected and appointed officials, have a solemn duty to the public to advise their clients within the four corners of the law, and to ensure that they do not allow themselves to become the tools by which those officials seek to undermine democratic governance. We have no doubt that the information that the Select Committee has will greatly assist the state bar disciplinary authorities in protecting the rule of law by holding accountable those who are sworn to defend it.” 

This letter is the latest action taken by States United to hold democracy violators accountable. Details on other accountability efforts—including legal ethics complaints filed against John Eastman and Jenna Ellis, and a civil lawsuit against the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and their leaders and members—are available here: https://statesuniteddemocracy.org/priorities/accountability/  

### 

About the States United Democracy Center 

The States United Democracy Center is a nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections. We connect state officials, law enforcement leaders, and pro-democracy partners across America with the tools and expertise they need to safeguard our democracy. For more information, visit https://statesuniteddemocracy.org/.