Trump 2020 Attorneys Face Disbarment, Suspension Ahead of 2024 Election

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the years since former President Donald Trump attempted to subvert the 2020 presidential election results, the attorneys who aided his efforts are facing the prospect of being banned from practicing law.

The disciplinary actions could mean the attorneys who were on the frontlines for Trump in 2020 won’t have active law licenses in November.

This year alone, courts and professional disciplinary boards that govern attorney conduct have issued recommendations for disbarment against two of Trump’s closest allies in his 2020 election fight — Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman.

Other former campaign attorneys like Jenna Ellis and Kenneth Chesebro have received suspensions in the states where they’re licensed to practice. All four attorneys were charged in criminal cases related to 2020.

Where Trump’s former 2020 campaign attorneys stand in their disciplinary cases:

Giuliani was among the first of Trump’s 2020 attorneys to face professional consequences. Roughly six months after a mob of Trump supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a New York disciplinary committee suspended Giuliani’s license to practice law in the state.

The committee found that Giuliani communicated “demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public” in connection with Trump’s reelection bid.

Records show his license was still suspended as of June 6.

In May, a disciplinary board for the Washington, D.C., bar concluded Giuliani should be disbarred in the nation’s capital for his 2020 efforts. His current D.C. status shows his law license is under a temporary suspension.

In his defense, Giuliani testified before the board’s committee that he did the best he could do “under the circumstances.” 

Eastman is under fire in part for his role in helping orchestrate the 2020 multistate scheme to have fake electors submit alternate election results claiming that Trump won. The plan involved then-Vice President Mike Pence certifying the fake electors when Congress convened to certify the winner on Jan. 6, 2021. Despite a pressure campaign from Trump and his allies, Pence certified Biden.

In May, Eastman was temporarily suspended from practicing law in Washington, D.C., pending the resolution of his disciplinary case in California, according to an order from the D.C. Court of Appeals. Records show Eastman was still suspended as of June 6. 

Eastman also played a substantial role in perpetuating false allegations of widespread ballot fraud, as detailed in the State Bar Court of California’s report. In March, a judge ruled that he should be disbarred for his conduct. The California bar’s website shows he is not eligible to practice law in the state. 

The website also shows that Chesebro, another 2020 attorney for Trump who aided the former president in the fake elector scheme, is also no longer eligible, meaning he’s unable to practice law in California.

California court documents show that after Chesebro in October pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit filing false documents in the Georgia election subversion case, the State Bar Court of California moved to suspend Chesebro’s license, effective Feb. 19.

The website notes that Chesebro and two other Trump allies were each charged this month with forgery for their role in the fake elector scheme in Wisconsin. 

Last year, right-wing attorney and vocal Trump supporter L. Lin Wood decided to retire permanently from law, according to a letter he sent in July to the State Bar of Georgia. His current status is listed as “retired.”

News outlets reported that Wood’s retirement was an apparent attempt to fend off disciplinary proceedings stemming from his conduct after the 2020 election. Though Wood denied that he retired out of fear of disbarment. 

What makes these cases unique:

Disbarment and lengthy suspensions often happen in cases involving an attorney and their client, a legal ethics expert told Democracy Docket. What makes these cases different is the impact of their claims, which sought to halt and undermine the democratic process based on allegations for which there was no concrete proof.

“It’s a type of situation [that’s] outside of the routine, traditional types of cases that disciplinary boards are usually looking at,” Arthur Burger, a D.C., attorney and expert on legal ethics and professional responsibility, told Democracy Docket. 

In Giuliani’s D.C. case, for instance, he faces disbarment primarily for his involvement in Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Boockvar — a case that alleged without evidence that election fraud took place in multiple Democratic counties in Pennsylvania.

Board members explained in their report that Giuliani’s conduct during the case violated Pennsylvania’s professional rules for attorneys, specifically Rule 3.1 that says a lawyer cannot bring or defend a proceeding or asset and issue unless there is a “basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous.” 

The board said it agreed with its committee’s earlier findings that the Pennsylvania case was based “only on speculation, mistrust, and suspicion.”

“When you have that level of disregard for integrity,” Burger said, “when you’re making assertions that important, it’s so impactful that you’re eroding the rule of law itself, and you’re eroding the foundations of a democratic government.”

Read more about the D.C. bar’s disciplinary case against Rudy Giuliani here.

Read more about the California case against John Eastman here.