On Friday, December 15, 2023, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., filed a complaint with the Judicial Council of the District of Columbia Circuit alleging improper conduct by D.C. District Court Judge Beryl Howell.
In her five-page letter, Stefanik claimed Judge Howell engaged in inappropriate partisan speech at a November event that amounted to election interference. Stefanik alleged Howell’s comments undermined public trust in the judicial system.
Howell had been a key judge overseeing many January 6th Capitol attack cases and other legal matters involving former President Donald Trump. Stefanik’s letter details Howell attending an award ceremony alongside Biden administration officials like Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
At the event, hosted by the Women’s White Collar Defense Association, Howell and Monaco received awards. Stefanik argued Howell should not have accepted an award pertaining to her work on January 6 cases from Biden administration members currently prosecuting those same cases.
Stefanik’s letter describes speeches made by former Obama officials at the event that praised Howell and Monaco. Stefanik alleged Howell then gave her own comments warning about “big lies” and the threat of authoritarianism in America.
Citing a report from Politico, Stefanik wrote that Howell appeared to criticize Trump and blame the January 6 Capitol attack on “big lies,” though did not name Trump directly. Stefanik argued this constituted improper election interference.
In her complaint, Stefanik—who serves as Chair of the House Republican Conference—urged an ethics investigation of Howell. Stefanik claimed Howell’s comments and association with partisan officials undermined the appearance of an impartial judiciary.
Stefanik alleged Howell’s speech promoted a new book criticizing Trump and the Republican party. Overall, the five-page letter raised concerns about Howell overseeing pending January 6 cases and the upcoming Trump trial. It asked the Judicial Council to investigate if Howell’s actions violated judicial conduct standards.
Judge Howell is a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She was nominated on July 14, 2010, confirmed by the Senate on December 22, 2010, and became chief judge on March 17, 2016, upon the retirement of Judge Richard Roberts.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.