Fact Check

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Disbarred for Misconduct?

Hyperpartisan web sites spread the false claim that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be disbarred thanks to a letter of complaint signed by 2,000 U.S. lawyers.

Published March 29, 2017

 (Rob Crandall / Shutterstock, Inc.)
Image courtesy of Rob Crandall / Shutterstock, Inc.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is to be disbarred from the Alabama State Bar Association due to a letter of complaint filed by 2,000 attorneys from across the U.S.

In late March 2017, several political news and opinion web sites (including DemocraticReview.com and LeftLiberal.com) published articles bearing headlines asserting that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been (or will be) disbarred in his home state of Alabama as a result of an ethics complaint filed by a national organization of attorneys:

Breaking: Attorney General Jeff Sessions To Be Disbarred After Bar Complaint Filed By Thousands Of Lawyers

A group of attorneys from across America have just filed a complaint with the Bar Association against Trump’s Attorney General Sen. Jeff Sessions.

According to the complaint, Sessions has already committed four different types of professional misconduct during his time as Attorney General.

The Alabama Reporter wrote, “Almost 2,000 attorneys from across the U.S. have signed on to a complaint addressed to the Alabama State Bar Disciplinary Committee asking that Attorney General Jeff Session be disbarred from the Alabama State Bar.”

It is a fact that a complaint against Jeff Sessions allegedly co-signed by close to 2,000 attorneys was submitted to the Alabama State Bar Disciplinary Committee by an anti-Trump activist group called Lawyers for Good Government.

Penned by the organization's founder and president, Traci Feit Love, the document seeks Sessions' disbarment "based on his actions that violate the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct and constitute professional misconduct," specifically:

(1) An affirmative misrepresentation of fact under oath during testimony in Mr. Sessions' Senate confirmation process, specifically to a question propounded by Senator Al Franken.
(2) During Mr. Sessions’ US Senate confirmation hearing, failure to disclose significant facts material to an issue of national significance, that is, contacts with the Russian government during the presidential election.
(3) Perjury committed during Mr. Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearing.
(4) As Attorney General, withholding information about his own discussions with a representative of the Russian government, all while overseeing investigations into Russian interference with the US electoral process and Trump-Russia ties.

It remains for the disciplinary committee to consider the merits of the complaint before any action is taken, however. The mere fact that it was filed does not mean Sessions has been, or will be, disbarred. Further, its submission by a group with an overtly partisan agenda will likely affect how the committee evaluates it.

Still, the complaint was not made in a vacuum. A filing by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on 9 March 2017 argued for Sessions' disbarment on the same grounds:

“False testimony made under oath is one of the most serious ethical offenses a lawyer can make and one any state bar should investigate vigorously,” said ACLU National Political Director Faiz Shakir. “Alabamians and Americans from all walks of life should be assured that the organizations responsible for regulating lawyers in their state takes ethical violations seriously — no matter how powerful that lawyer may be.”

“Few events are more corrosive to a democracy than having the Attorney General make false statements under oath about a matter the Justice Department is investigating,” said Christopher Anders, deputy director of the ACLU's legislative office. “Jeff Sessions told a falsehood to the Senate, and did nothing to correct his statement until he was exposed by the press more than a month later. No attorney, whether just starting out as a new lawyer or serving as the country’s top law enforcement officer, should lie under oath. The Alabama bar must investigate this wrong fully and fairly.”

Alabama State Bar rules state that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” Sessions has been a member of the bar since 1973.

The disbarment process can be a lengthy one, according to coverage by the Washington Post. If the five-member disciplinary committee finds that the complaints have merit, copies will sent to Sessions for his written response. Investigations and hearings would then be held, followed by recommendations to Office of General Counsel, which would then determine whether sanctions are justified. In each case, it could take anywhere from six to 18 months from the date of filing for a judgment to be rendered.


Brownlee, Chip.   "Nearly 2,000 Lawyers Ask for Jeff Sessions to Be Disbarred."    Alabama Political Reporter.   28 March 2017.

Cheadle, Harry.   "Can a Facebook Group of 120,000 Lawyers Save America from Trump?"    Vice.com.   15 January 2017.

Philips, Christine.   "ACLU Files Ethics Complaint Against Sessions Over Communications with Russian Ambassador."    The Washington Post.   10 March 2017.

American Civil Liberties Union.   "ACLU Files Ethics Complaint Against Attorney General Sessions for False Statements Made During Confirmation Hearing."    9 March 2017.

DemocraticReview.com.   "Breaking: Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Be Disbarred After Complaint Filed by Thousands of Lawyers."    28 March 2017.

Lawyers for Good Government.   "Complaint Against Alabama Lawyer Jefferson B. Sessions."    March 2017.

LeftLiberal.com.   "Jeff Sessions Disbarred About Thousands of Complaints."    29 March 2017.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.