December 16th, 2023

By Josh Christenson


House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) filed a misconduct complaint on Friday against a DC federal judge, alleging the jurist recently “gave a highly inappropriate speech” that called into question her impartiality in previous rulings against former President Donald Trump.

The complaint, which Stefanik posted in full on X, asks for an ethics probe of US District Judge Beryl Howell for having “suggested reelecting President Trump will lead to fascism in America” and for entertaining “cozy personal relationships” with President Biden’s deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco.

“I filed a judicial misconduct complaint against Judge Howell, because election interference by judges destroys public confidence in the federal judiciary, tears apart the fabric of our Republic, and is illegal,” Stefanik said in a statement. “It must end now.”

DC Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan received the complaint, which was first reported by NBC News.

The Post has reached out to the court for comment.

House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) filed a misconduct complaint on Friday against US District Judge Beryl Howell.

Stefanik alleged Howell recently “gave a highly inappropriate speech” that was “hardly apolitical,” calling into question her impartiality for previous rulings against Donald Trump. The Washington Post via Getty Images

Howell, who was nominated to the federal bench in 2010 by former President Barack Obama and served as the DC district’s chief judge from 2016 until this past March, delivered rulings overseeing Trump’s federal Jan. 6 case and his classified documents case in Miami, both of which were brought by special counsel Jack Smith.

She also supervised grand jury proceedings during special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government.

In August, Howell entered a default judgement against former NYC mayor and onetime Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani in a defamation case brought by two Georgia poll workers he accused of election fraud in 2020.

DC Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan received the complaint, which was first reported by NBC News. X/@EliseStefanik

Trump, 77, remains the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination despite the charges, as well as two other cases against him in Manhattan for alleged business fraud and in Atlanta for trying to reverse 2020 election results in Georgia.

Biden nominated Monaco to the No. 2 post at the Justice Department in January 2021, and she has gone on to preside over all of the federal cases filed against those involved in the Capitol riot that occurred that same month.

Loretta Lynch, Kathy Ruemmler, Lisa Monaco and Howell “​​huddled and wrapped their arms around each other on stage, to applause and with dramatic music playing,” Stefanik said. X/@EliseStefanik

On Nov. 27, Howell and Monaco both received the “champion award” at the Women’s White Collar Defense Association gala, and Howell delivered a speech that referenced her judicial work related to the Capitol riot.

“My DC judicial colleagues and I regularly see the impact of big lies at the sentencing of hundreds, hundreds of individuals who have been convicted for offensive conduct on Jan. 6, 2021, when they disrupted the certification of the 2020 presidential election at the US Capitol,” Howell said, according to NBC. “As district court judges, we are all about the facts.”

Biden, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other leading Democrats have denounced Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud as “the big lie” he told to supporters in the wake of his 2020 electoral loss.

Stefanik said Howell’s remarks had “promoted the Democrat political campaign theme that the re-election of Donald Trump equates to America choosing authoritarianism,” which was “conduct unbecoming of a federal judge.”

She also noted that former Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch heaped praise on Howell for her handling of the Trump federal cases, while referring to the actions of the 45th president’s supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, as an “insurrection.”

“It’s hard to imagine how these criminal defendants can expect a fair trial, when one of the key federal judges received a ‘champion award’ from partisan opponents while cases are pending before her court,” Stefanik added, pointing out that Smith’s case does not charge the former president with “insurrection.”

Howell delivered rulings as the court’s chief judge overseeing Trump’s Jan. 6 case and his classified documents case. REUTERS

“​​Lynch, [former Obama White House Counsel Kathy] Ruemmler, Monaco (the senior DOJ official prosecuting January 6 cases), and Judge Howell (overseeing January 6 cases) even huddled and wrapped their arms around each other on stage, to applause and with dramatic music playing,” she also said.

“Partisans cannot use our judicial system to exact political revenge against those with whom they disagree. The consequences for our legal system, Constitution, and country would be devastating.”

Stefanik also filed an ethics complaint against Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron in November, accusing him of “bizarre behavior” and “clear judicial bias” in the $250 million civil fraud case against Trump.