But Fox said Clark went further by repeatedly seeking to get the Justice Department to send a letter warning of significant signs of fraud and urging state legislatures to reconvene and consider nominating new presidential electors.
“He came back and used coercive methods or means to try to get the letter sent even though he had no additional information” about the fraud, Fox said during the videoconference session.
Harry MacDougald, a lawyer for Clark, pushed back.
“They say it’s OK to make a suggestion, but it’s not OK to persist in a suggestion,” MacDougald said.
Merril Hirsh, a veteran DC attorney who chairs a three-member panel to review the bar complaint, said that’s the key question he’s considering as he begins to map out the process for decide Clark’s professional fate.
Clark was a central figure in Trump’s latest bid to stay in power despite losing the 2020 election. In December 2020, Clark pushed his superiors to send a letter to state legislatures, encouraging them to meet in special sessions and to consider certifying pro-Trump voters in several states won by Joe Biden. But senior DOJ officials resisted, expressing concern over Clark’s efforts and stressing that there was simply no factual basis to suggest the election results were tainted with fraud.
Trump, who was introduced to Clark by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), came close to appointing Clark as acting attorney general and ousting the group of officials who stood in Clark’s way, but the president s withdrew amid a mass resignation threat by other DOJ leaders.
Clark has been the subject of a torrent of investigations since Trump left office. Clark’s home was raided in June by FBI agents as part of an investigation into efforts to quash the results, and he was also a figure of significant interest to the Jan. 6 select committee. He pleaded for the Fifth Amendment when he appeared for a select committee deposition earlier this year.
But lawyers involved in Trump’s 2020 efforts face another avenue of liability: professional consequences. Several, like former Trump attorney Sidney Powell, have been disciplined for filing baseless lawsuits over election results in some states. Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani has also been the subject of bar proceedings in New York and Washington, D.C.
A DC Bar Association investigative office filed a lawsuit charging Clark with dishonesty and attempted interference with the administration of justice, two punishable offenses for a practicing attorney. If the charges are confirmed, Clark faces a range of penalties, from a reprimand to the loss of his attorney’s license.
Bar proceedings are generally protracted cases. A three-member committee, overseen by Hirsh, will make initial recommendations after gathering facts. Those recommendations will go to the DC Bar Professional Responsibility Council, which will then forward its own final decision to the DC Court of Appeals, which has the power to impose discipline ranging from a reprimand to disbarment.
Hirsh said he made no initial decision on Clark’s guilt and was interested in the line between bad legal advice and punishable misconduct.
“Where is the line and how do you draw that line?” Hirsh asked the parties.
Hirsh has set a schedule of briefings and arguments that stretches into December, while investigators pursue depositions from Clark’s former Justice Department superiors and subpoena Clark himself for documents about his efforts. Meanwhile, Clark’s lawyers plan to call legal experts to discuss professional ethics.
Hirsh also wants to understand how potential privilege issues — from presidential communications to deliberative process privileges — could hamper the review, particularly if the Justice Department limits what its witnesses can share.
Clark’s attorneys previously fought a secret court battle to block a subpoena from Fox’s office, but the fight was declared moot after the office filed formal charges. MacDougald said Thursday that Clark may take up that legal challenge in an effort to prevent the proceeding, but Hirsh said he plans to keep the process on track until a court steps in to stop them.