justice department

Ex-Trump DOJ lawyer Jeffrey Clark hit with legal ethics charges over post-election role

Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department attorney at the center of former President Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, was hit Friday with ethics charges alleging that his role in the post-election effort amounted to a breach of legal ethics.

The charges, filed by the District of Columbia Bar Office of Disciplinary Counsel, sets in motion disciplinary proceedings over allegations that Clark engaged in dishonest conduct and sought to interfere with the administration of justice and will culminate in findings that could affect Clark’s D.C. law license.

Clark, who specialized in environmental law at the Justice Department, clark-draft-letter.html”attempted to send a letter to Georgia officials pushing the state to suspend certification of its 2020 election results until the Justice Department investigated fraud claims, despite agency leaders saying such claims were without merit.

After former Attorney General William Barr resigned in December 2020, Clark pushed Trump to nominate him to lead the Justice Department and pursue the president’s false election claims.

Clark said that if selected as acting attorney general he would send the letter to state legislatures, despite warnings from fellow Justice Department lawyers about incorrect information.

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Opinion | ‘Detached From Reality’ Is Trump’s Best Defense at This Point

One potential charge that is getting a lot of attention on social media is conspiracy to defraud the United States, which would require the Department of Justice to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump agreed with others to obstruct a lawful function of the government by deceitful or dishonest means. I’ve charged that statute before when I was a federal prosecutor in the context of a dishonest tax avoidance scheme.

At the core of any fraud prosecution is proving the defendant’s dishonesty and intent to defraud beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s why Trump’s state of mind — in particular, proof regarding whether he believed what he was peddling — is so important. And why his rather complicated state of mind presents serious problems for prosecutors.

Some have suggested that prosecutors can sidestep this problem by relying on a willful or deliberate ignorance theory. In certain circumstances, the law recognizes that a defendant’s deliberate attempts to avoid knowledge of an incriminating fact demonstrates their knowledge of that fact. For example, if someone approaches you a few miles from the U.S. border and offers you $5,000 to drive a U-Haul across the border, your deliberate refusal to look at what’s

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