Reuters-By Sarah N. Lynch
FILE PHOTO – Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Clark speaks next to Deputy U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference, where they announced that Purdue Pharma LP has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges over the handling of its addictive prescription opioid OxyContin, at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S., October 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/Pool
WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Former Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Bossert Clark asked a federal court on Monday to intervene in a legal disciplinary case pending against him over his efforts to help former President Donald Trump overturn his 2020 election loss.
In his lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Clark argues that the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the local bodies of the D.C. Bar responsible for filing and adjudicating disciplinary proceedings against attorneys do not have the jurisdiction to bring ethics charges against him.
Clark, who previously led the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and temporarily led the Civil Division, argues that “no state possesses the power to supervise the internal operations and deliberations of any branch of the federal government.”
The ethics case against him, the lawsuit says, represents a “direct attack on the fundamental principle of separation of powers.”
Hamilton “Phil” Fox, the head of the office that brought the ethics charges, declined to immediately comment on the lawsuit, but said he does not believe that any of the D.C. Bar’s disciplinary cases have ever been removed to federal court.
The litigation from Clark is his latest maneuver to beat back ethics charges stemming from his efforts while at the Justice Department to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Earlier this year, the D.C. Office of Disciplinary Counsel, part of the D.C. Bar, filed ethics charges against him for allegedly attempting to “engage in conduct involving dishonesty” and attempting actions “that would seriously interfere with the administration of justice.”
The charges center on efforts by Clark to pressure then-Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, to launch investigations in Georgia based on Trump’s bogus claims of voting fraud there.
Clark pressured Rosen and Donoghue to send Georgia a letter claiming falsely that the Justice Department had uncovered voting irregularities there.
When they refused, he sought to get Trump to oust Rosen so he could be installed as Acting Attorney General. However, Trump ultimately declined to do so.
Both Rosen and Donoghue are expected to be called as witnesses at Clark’s public disciplinary hearing in January.
The D.C. Bar is still collecting evidence against Clark, and earlier this month subpoenaed additional documents, including “any documents supporting the contention that you were Acting Attorney General on January 3, 2021.”
In a statement, one of Clark’s attorneys said the ethics case against Clark represents a “flagrant misuse” of the disciplinary function and sets a “dangerous precedent.”
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch in Washington Additional reporting by Mike Scarcella Editing by Matthew Lewis
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