For lawyers working with former President Donald Trump, legal risk is considered an expected part of the job: More than 40 attorneys who worked to overturn the 2020 election on his behalf have been hit with ethics complaints.
The New York Times reported legal experts joke MAGA now stands for “Making Attorneys Get Attorneys,” based on the reputational risk of working with Trump.
“There’s no way to adhere to your ethical integrity and keep your job,” Kimberly Wehle, a University of Baltimore law professor who closely tracked investigations into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, told The New York Times of the dilemma Mr. Trump’s lawyers face: “There’s just no way to not step into a mess.”
The 65 Project, a bipartisan effort to hold Trump-allied lawyers accountable for filing 65 lawsuits across swing states in an attempt to overturn legitimate 2020 election results, has filed more than 40 ethics complaints with their respective state bar associations against lawyers who participated in the scheme.
Among the complaints, including 17 filed last month, are ethical concerns raised against former Trump lawyers John Eastman, Cleta Mitchell, and Jenna Ellis.
On Jan 6, 2021, Eastman asked former Vice President Mike Pence’s legal counsel to break the law and halt proceedings to certify the 2020 election. He was still pitching ways to overturn the election by the time President Joe Biden took office.
Mitchell is currently leading a group of GOP poll workers to challenge results in the midterms. Ellis has been ordered to testify before the Fulton County, Georgia special grand jury investigating whether Trump and his associates tried to interfere in the 2020 elections.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s one-time personal lawyer, has also been named as a target in the Georgia investigation and his licenses to practice law in the District of Columbia and New York have been suspended over his election fraud claims.
Another former Trump lawyer, Sidney Powell, is under investigation for overseeing an effort to copy sensitive election data and coordinating a breach in Georgia election files.
Christina Bobb, a current Trump lawyer, is currently facing legal trouble after she signed a letter attesting that a “diligent search” had been conducted and all material that was in Mar-a-Lago at the time had been returned to the US government, per a court filing. Two months later, the FBI raided Trump’s Florida golf club and found 20 boxes worth of new material, including 11 sets that were marked as classified.
Michael Cohen, a former Trump lawyer sentenced to three years in prison in part over his role in arranging illegal hush-money payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels to prevent her from speaking about her affair with Trump, has warned Trump’s current legal team to “lawyer up,” citing his own felony charges including tax evasion, campaign-finance violations, and bank fraud.
“Ultimately, we want to demonstrate to all the lawyers that the next time that Sidney Powell or Rudy Giuliani calls and says, ‘Hey, will you sign your name to this,’ they’ll say ‘no,’ because they’ll realize that there are professional consequences,” Michael Teter, director of the 65 Project, told The New York Times.