J6 Committee, DOJ’s Targeting of Trump Attorneys Aimed at Destroying MAGA, Threatens Democracy: Lawyers

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The House Jan. 6 Committee, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and other bodies around the country are targeting lawyers who defend those involved in the events surrounding Jan. 6, according to experts and attorneys, who describe such moves as an unprecedented attack on democracy.

Conservative attorneys have faced ethics charges, been threatened with criminal charges, or been harassed via the service of subpoenas for documents that amount to nothing more than a “fishing expedition,” the experts said.

Some of the targeted attorneys include Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, Jeffrey Clark, and John Eastman, who represented or aided former President Donald Trump in his challenges to the 2020 election, as well as prominent criminal defense attorney Bob Costello, who represented Giuliani and Steve Bannon on several separate matters.

The tactic has been employed to prevent these attorneys from adequately representing their conservative clients and is part of the broader trend of canceling conservatives, the experts said.

They added that the development is one of the most dangerous aspects of the Jan. 6 committee’s work.

Jan 6 committee
A video of former President Donald Trump is played during a hearing by the House January 6 committee in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington on Oct. 13, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A Constitutional Right

This trend, however, started well before the events of Jan. 6., experts said, with liberals perfecting the tactic of targeting lawyers and non-lawyers in the Trump administration or representing Trump.

The experts cited as examples: the prosecution of Gen. Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor to Trump, attorney Michael Cohen, who personally represented the former president before he was elected, the attempted prosecution of Trump advisor George Papadopoulos, the conviction of Trump political advisor Roger Stone, as well as cases against former Trump advisor Steve Bannon.

The consequences could be dire for the country if the development is left unchecked, warned one attorney who represents clients charged in Jan. 6 matters.

“The attorney is the sword and the shield for the citizens of the United States,” New York attorney Joe McBride, who represents almost a dozen Jan . 6 defendants, told the Epoch Times.

“The attorney-client privilege that is built into the United States Constitution, in the Sixth Amendment, but also is representative of the preservation and execution of defense of all the other rights: your due process rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom, to protest, freedom of assembly, privacy rights—you name it. An attorney representing clients is how you protect those rights,” he said.

McBride said the Jan. 6 committee and the DOJ have issued broad subpoenas to attorneys that amount to little more than a fishing expedition. By demanding lawyers turn over volumes of communications, much of which falls under attorney-client privilege, they are violating these rights, and making effective counsel by attorneys more difficult, he said.

Denying Conservatives Full Benefit of the Legal System

One legal expert described this tactic as an attempt to entrap attorneys by twisting written documents normally produced by lawyers on behalf of clients into vague fraud and conspiracy-to-incite-an-insurrection charges.

John Malcolm, vice president for the Institute for Constitutional Government and director of the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said that liberals are attempting to prevent conservatives from having the full benefit of the legal system that is supposed to give even the worst criminals the same treatment as innocent citizens.

“Attorneys represent people in court all the time,” Malcolm told The Epoch Times.

“And their job is to give them the complete benefit of the legal system, not to adjudicate whether they’re guilty or not guilty” of a crime, he added, noting that it’s extremely rare that attorneys are accused of conspiring with clients, even when lawyers know clients are guilty of a crime.

Malcolm said that in the case of Trump and the election, even if the attorneys hypothetically were convinced that Trump lost the election, if there were legal improprieties in the process of the election or legal arguments to make, attorneys are obliged to make them on behalf of their clients.

“Even if you think you lost, if you think that there were improprieties in the way the election was conducted, and you have legal argument to make challenging that result, you have an absolute right as an attorney to do that,” Malcolm said.

Giuliani, Jenna Ellis
President Donald Trump lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks to media while flanked by Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis (R) at a press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on Nov. 19, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Disciplinary Action

Several attorneys involved in Trump’s 2020 efforts have also faced professional disciplinary action over their advocacy disputing the election results. Giuliani, a former top federal prosecutor, has had his law license suspended in New York and Washington pending bar proceedings. Powell and other pro-Trump lawyers were sanctioned in Michigan over their filing of an election fraud lawsuit in that state. Clark, a former DOJ lawyer, is fighting professional ethics charges in Washington.

But this advocacy forms the basis of how a representative government works, argued McBride.

The attorney warned that without lawyers to represent people in court, all the government is left with is the use of force to settle disputes, with the government holding the upper hand on in this regard.

“They are trying to remove the adversarial nature from the process that attorneys represent. And without the adversarial process, there is nobody to fight for your rights in a court of law. It’s over,” McBride said

Malcolm agreed and questioned why liberal attorneys do not seem to be similarly concerned about such abuses of the right to legal representation.

“Attorneys should be encouraged to represent those in [unpopular] circumstances, and not be canceled or have ethics charges filed against them, or face the risk of indictment for representing clients,” Malcolm said.

“It’s a very dangerous development for society. It has been a dangerous development in the legal profession. It’s just terrible,” he added.

Steve Bannon Contempt Trial Continues In Washington, DC
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon looks on as his attorney David Schoen speaks to reporters as he leaves the Federal District Court House at the end of the fourth day of his trial for contempt of Congress in Washington, on July 21, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Use of DC Courts

Republican Florida State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who recently got licensed in the District of Columbia (D.C.) specifically to help defend people charged over Jan. 6, said the legal system is being used to unfairly target conservatives.

That’s why so many cases are being brought in federal courts in the District of Columbia, so liberals can find sympathetic jury pools, he said.

“So I see a new trend emerging where they’re going to start charging conservatives in the federal district of D.C., mostly to get the juries that they want, which are radical left-wing juries,” Sabatini told The Epoch Times.

“So you basically, guarantee that you’re going to get a guilty charge on any political charge they crank up,” he added.

Sabatini recently posted on Twitter that he was now licensed to appear in D.C. federal courts and he encouraged other conservative attorneys to do the same to defend fellow conservatives.

McBride agreed that no conservatives can get a fair trial in federal courts in D.C., and that’s one reason why he has asked for a change of venue in every case that he represents there.

He compared the Jan. 6 cases to the 1989 trials of Reagan administration officials, including Lt. Col. Oliver North and former national security adviser John Poindexter who were convicted in the U.S. District Court in D.C. over actions arising out of the Iran-Contra affair. The scandal involved the secret sale of arms to Iran and the diversion of profits to aid rebels in Nicaragua, an act banned by Congress.

The convictions of North and Poindexter were eventually overturned when an appeals court found that trial testimony was tainted by the use of Congressional statements given by the two officials under an immunity agreement.

“Is there any possibility of getting a fair shake at a trial in D.C.?” asked McBride, noting that if anything, cable, social media, and wall-to-wall internet coverage, make the jury pool and trial testimony even more tainted than the North-Poindexter trial.

“There’s just no way that anybody can ever get a fair trial at this point in time,” he said.

McBride said he thinks that the Jan. 6 cases that have convictions will eventually be overturned after appeals on grounds that pretrial publicity tainted the jury pools in D.C., which are already hostile to conservatives, in turn denying defendants the right to a fair trial.

Destroying MAGA

Sabatini said the goal of liberals and establishment figures like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is to destroy the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement started by Trump.

The legal prosecutions and harassment are merely new tactics deployed in this campaign.

“They know what they’re doing … and this is just their new way of doing it,” he said.

“[Cheney] does what she does because her goal is to destroy the MAGA movement. That’s why she’s on the J6 Committee,” he added. 

McBride also had stern words for his fellow attorneys on bar committees who he said are allowing attacks on the basic right of people to get legal counsel.

“Not only do you not hear any bands of attorneys or Bar Associations backing the rights of attorneys who have come under attack, these people are actually joining” the attacks on their fellow attorneys, McBride said.

Malcolm agreed and warned of the serious consequences for the country if these campaigns continue.

“Lawyers have an obligation—and it’s the most honorable part of the profession—to represent unpopular causes,” Malcolm said.

“And that includes former President Trump and his challengers to the 2020 election. And charging these attorneys with ethics complaints, or potentially charging them as criminals, is a very dangerous and ill-advised development that threatens the integrity of the legal process,” he said.

And it threatens our democracy itself, each expert agreed.

“When you look at the criminalization of political protest, or you look at the targeting of attorneys, the cancellation of attorneys, threatening them with jail, and ready to take away their bar license for defending people, you have to really wake up to what’s going on,” McBride said.

“The moment that attorneys stop fighting for you in the courtrooms, the war for our democracy is lost without the firing bullets of any bullets. You lose your most meaningful, daily way to exercise your rights,” he added.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Cheney’s office, the Jan. 6 committee, and the DOJ for comment.

John Ransom


John Ransom is a freelance reporter covering U.S. news for The Epoch Times with offices in Washington, D.C., and Asia.

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