Ultimately, Trump’s lawyers’ conduct should not be viewed in a vacuum. The conduct must be judged in the context of the Trump campaign’s broader effort to perpetrate an unprecedented fraud upon the American public by claiming election theft, without a shred of credible evidence. Rule 1.2(d)—another key provision governing American lawyers—states that “a lawyer shall not … assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is … fraudulent.” Nor, under Rule 8.4, may a lawyer “engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation” or “that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.” Further, the preamble to the Rules makes clear that lawyers have “special responsibility for the quality of justice,” which includes furthering the public’s “confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority.”

These frivolous lawsuits are expressly engineered to undermine the public’s faith in core democratic processes. These efforts to sow distrust predated the election and have escalated in its wake. Since Nov. 3, Trump has gone to Twitter to charge “corruption,” allege “tampering with an election,” and assert the existence of a “mail-in ballot hoax” to “steal the election.” Prior to Nov. 3, Trump repeatedly made false claims of fraudulent mail-in ballots in an explicit effort to delegitimize the election and lay the groundwork for legal challenges. Indeed, going all the way back to 2016, Trump has repeatedly said he’d accept election results—but only “if I win.” Partly as a consequence of these concerted efforts, about three in four Republicans now doubt that the election was “conducted fairly and accurately.”