House Chair Files Ethics Complaint Against DC Judge Linked to Trump Case
House Chair Files Ethics Complaint Against DC Judge Linked to Trump Case

By Jack Phillips

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) on Friday filed a complaint against a District of Columbia federal judge who has overseen a number of cases related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach and rejected arguments from former President Donald Trump’s attorneys.

The ethics complaint was filed against Judge Beryl Howell, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, has issued rulings against a number of Jan. 6 defendants, and also levied a fine against Elon Musk’s X platform, formerly known as Twitter, after the company refused to hand over access to posts, direct messages, and data related to President Trump’s account to special counsel Jack Smith.

The judge, who recently stepped down as the chief judge for the D.C. court, also supervised the grand jury for special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, which ended in 2019, as well as Mr. Smith’s indictment of President Trump, and she also declared that the first impeachment inquiry targeting the former president is legal. Earlier this year, Judge Howell sided with the Smith special counsel team in saying that there was sufficient evidence that President Trump “intentionally concealed” classified material from attorneys.

Ms. Stefanik’s complaint, filed with D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan, centers on comments that Judge Howell made, describing it as a “highly inappropriate political speech.”

In her speech, the judge “suggested reelecting President Trump will lead to fascism in America,” wrote Ms. Stefanik, the House Republican Conference chair. “Judge Howell’s partisan speech is obviously highly inappropriate election interference by a federal judge that undermines the public’s trust in our courts.”

The judge “gave a highly inappropriate speech in which she insinuated the election of President Trump will lead to fascism in America,” she wrote on X. “She also inappropriately allowed a public display of her cozy personal relationships with her partisan friends who appear before her, including the Biden Deputy Attorney General who supervises the January 6 criminal prosecutions.”

Judge Howell made the speech at a gala for a women’s attorneys group on Nov. 27 and received an award. She told the group that they need to preserve democracy and she specifically made a comment about “big lies” related to 2020 election fraud claims, echoing the “big lie” narrative often pushed by Democratic politicians and mainstream media outlets. Like those outlets and Democrats, she also reportedly tied the narrative to the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

While she did not make mention of President Trump, the federal judge said that her “D.C. judicial colleagues and I regularly see the impact of big lies at the sentencing of hundreds, hundreds of individuals who have been convicted for offense conduct on Jan. 6, 2021, when they disrupted the certification of the 2020 presidential election at the U.S. Capitol.”

Ms. Stefanik said that Judge Howell used her public speech to promote a political narrative while cases are still pending in the court.

“Partisans cannot use our judicial system to exact political revenge against those with whom they disagree,” her complaint states. “The consequences for our legal system, Constitution, and country would be devastating. I urge you to investigate Judge Howell’s partisan speech.”

She also argued that Judge Howell has “promoted the Democrat political campaign theme that the re-election of Donald Trump equates to America choosing authoritarianism.”

The complaint also made reference to Judge Howell’s praise of Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, who also reportedly received an award at the same event. Notably, Ms. Monaco oversees all the Jan. 6-related cases.

“I’ve been in awe of how you remain a model of calm and grace when carrying enormous responsibility for the safety of so many,” the judge said, referring to Ms. Monaco. “Not just in your current job, but in your prior national security role.”

U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Beryl A. Howell presides at the U.S. District Court in Washington on April 13, 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Judge Howell had served as chief district judge for a seven-year term before stepping down earlier in 2023. That position is now being held by Judge James Boasberg.

Since the Jan. 6 breach, more than 1,200 people have been charged in connection to the incident with varying crimes, according to the Department of Justice. More than 700 defendants have pleaded guilty.

It’s not the first time the House GOP chairwoman filed a complaint against a judge that has been linked to former President Trump. In November, she filed an ethics complaint against Judge Arthur Engoron, a New York judge who is overseeing the civil fraud case against the former president, claiming that he had a bias against him.

The judge’s alleged “lawlessness sends an ominous and illegal warning to New York business owners: If New York judges don’t like your politics, they will destroy your business, the livelihood of your employees, and you personally. This Commission cannot let this continue,” Ms. Stefanik wrote.

As of Friday morning, neither the judge nor the court have issued a public response to Ms. Stefanik’s claims. The Epoch Times has contacted the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for comment.

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