Rep. Stefanik Files Official Complaint Against New York AG Letitia James

‘In just the first five weeks of the trial that began in October 2023 ... Ms. James made over 50 highly inappropriate and prejudicial comments on social media.’
Rep. Stefanik Files Official Complaint Against New York AG Letitia James
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) speaks during a campaign event with Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald J. Trump in Concord, N.H., on Jan. 19, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Catherine Yang
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump, filed an official bar complaint on Feb. 12 against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Ms. James had brought the high-profile, multimillion dollar civil fraud case against the former president, in which a judge is set to issue a ruling any day now.

In a statement, Ms. Stefanik said Ms. James’s conduct had been “nothing short of shameful” and that she showed explicit bias through inappropriate public comments.
“In just the first five weeks of the trial that began in October 2023—before I stopped counting—Ms. James made over 50 highly inappropriate and prejudicial comments on social media,” the complaint reads.

Ms. Stefanik said that while Americans have the First Amendment right to express their opinions, state attorneys are “held to a higher standard due to their unique role as officers of the court.”

She is asking the New York Attorney Grievance Committee to investigate Ms. James and temporarily suspend, permanently suspend, or disbar her.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron had presided over the bench trial and has been asked to consider penalties including a $370 million disgorgement of Trump Organization and to permanently ban President Trump from doing business in New York.

In November, Ms. Stefanik also filed a judicial ethics complaint against Justice Engoron, accusing him of bias based on the judge’s comments and gag order on President Trump.

‘Personal Vendetta’

The rules of professional conduct for New York attorneys state that officers of the legal system should uphold public confidence in the legal process and promote access to the legal system.

“A lawyer should further the public’s understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because, in a constitutional democracy, legal institutions depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority,” it states, as cited in the official complaint.

It also states that lawyers should not engage in conduct that “adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer,” and other attorneys have been sanctioned by the committee for inappropriate media statements.

During the course of the trial, Ms. James made several speeches and gave statements to the media claiming that President Trump lied repeatedly and that he used fraud to enrich his family. She also posted a series of infographics on the X platform promoting the fraud case and captioning it “Donald Trump’s art of the steal.”

Ms. Stefanik claimed that Ms. James pursued the case against President Trump as part of a “personal vendetta” that began since he first took office.

Ms. James had long been vocal about her opposition to President Trump taking office, and Ms. Stefanik cited quotes in which she said Ms. James “bragged” about her leadership in the “resistance” movement against him.

“Before she became a candidate for Attorney General, Ms. James displayed extreme partisan hostility toward President Trump. During President Trump’s first year in office, Ms. James led “die-in” protests against President Trump because ‘we are all being killed by this administration,” the complaint reads.

“I’ve been leading the resistance against Donald Trump in NYC and will only continue to do so in every way possible,” she said in an Associated Press interview in 2017.

In September 2023, when Ms. James brought the lawsuit, several articles about Ms. James’s history of targeting President Trump were published highlighting her record of “resistance.”

After the trial began on Oct. 2, 2023, the Trump campaign also uncovered several video clips of Ms. James from her time campaigning for the attorney general’s office. She had campaigned to “get Trump” and made comments about how she looked forward to going to work everyday, “suing him, and going home.”

It wasn’t just campaign speeches, Ms. Stefanik said, adding that Ms. James used her opposition to President Trump in fundraising as well, asking donors to help in her “fight against Donald Trump.”

All these serve as a basis for disciplinary action, as Ms. James should have instead distanced herself from any official action involving President Trump, the representative said.

“Despite her clear bias, Ms. James has launched frivolous investigations and lawsuits against President Trump, his family, and his businesses,” the complaint reads. “Ms. James also prejudged evidence she had not seen and called for criminal indictments on that basis.”

Ms. James’s comments and actions have drawn criticism from Democrats as well.

Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-N.Y.), who served as lead counsel in the impeachment of President Trump, told The New York Times that Ms. James’s conduct showed “an individualized vendetta.”

“It’s essential that prosecutors maintain their neutrality and an objective view of the facts and the evidence, no matter the politics involved,” he said.

Chuck Rosenberg, a former acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration who also worked under FBI Directors Robert Mueller and James Comey, wrote two articles on Lawfare Media in which he argued that Ms. James should recuse herself from cases involving President Trump because of her very public comments that demonstrated “prejudgment of the facts and a political predisposition to the issues she now must manage apolitically and dispassionately.”