Congressional Democrats on Wednesday asked the DC Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel to open an investigation into an attorney for the Trump campaign who had issued a call for violence against a former cybersecurity official who was ousted from his post after he rejected President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud.
Democratic Reps. Kathleen Rice of New York and Ted Lieu of California co-authored a letter sent to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel on Wednesday calling for an investigation into Joseph diGenova — a former US attorney for the District of Columbia who serves as one of Trump’s attorneys.
CNN has reached out to the DC Bar to confirm that it has received the letter.
The letter comes just days after diGenova was accused of violating his professional code of conduct and ethics when, during an appearance on “The Howie Carr Show,” he said Chris Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, “should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”
“If a lawyer licensed in the District of Columbia can — while speaking in a representative capacity — publicly call for the death of his client’s perceived adversaries without consequences, the Counsel has abjectly failed in its duty. The Counsel must apply its standards equally and open an investigation into Mr. diGenova immediately,” Rice and Lieu wrote in the letter.
DiGenova on Tuesday tried to walk back his remarks by portraying them as a joke, saying in a statement distributed by the Trump campaign: “For anyone listening to the Howie Carr Show, it was obvious that my remarks were sarcastic and made in jest. I, of course, wish Mr. Krebs no harm. This was hyperbole in a political discourse.”
In their letter, Rice and Lieu said that diGenova’s conduct violated at least three of the DC Bar Rules of Professional Conduct and piggybacked “violent rhetoric” previously uttered by Trump.
The remarks from diGenova, though much more extreme than others made by officials in the White House during Trump’s time in office, underscored the administration’s crusade against whistleblowers and others who have spoken out in opposition during the President’s term and refuse to adopt his conspiratorial view of the election.
Trump announced in November that Krebs would be “terminated” from his job running the cyber arm of the Department of Homeland Security “effective immediately” because a Krebs statement — in which he had rejected Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud — was “highly inaccurate.”
Krebs repeated his assessment that the election was secure in an op-ed published Tuesday in The Washington Post, and he addressed diGenova’s comments, saying he wasn’t “going to be intimidated by these threats from telling the truth to the American people.”
“The 2020 election was the most secure in U.S. history. This success should be celebrated by all Americans, not undermined in the service of a profoundly un-American goal,” he wrote.
DiGenova’s remarks were swiftly condemned on Monday by the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower group that warned that such threats could have a chilling effect on officials seeking to expose wrongdoing.
The comments also did not sit well a top security official.
During a virtual panel discussion for the Aspen Cyber Summit on the China Initiative, National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina said diGenova’s comments were wholly “inappropriate,” “embarrassing” and a “disappointment.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the first name of Rep. Ted Lieu.