Paul Davis Got FBI Visit, Faces Possible Discipline in Texas | Law & Crime
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Lawyer Who Was Fired the Day After U.S. Capitol Siege Speaks for First Time About Visit from FBI and a Disciplinary Inquiry in Texas

Ever since footage of him outside of the U.S. Capitol went viral on the day of the Jan. 6th siege, Texas-based lawyer Paul M. Davis has embarked upon a self-styled quest of J.R.R. Tolkien-esque proportions. Davis filed a federal lawsuit asking nothing less than the wholesale replacement of two branches of the U.S. federal government. He said the FBI visited his home to ask him for his statement, and a federal judge referred him to the Disciplinary Committee for the Western District of Texas.

After Law&Crime obtained his once-confidential disciplinary inquiry through an anonymous source, Davis granted what he described as his first interview to the press since he went to Washington.

“I’ve gotten so many requests in the media, and I haven’t responded to a single one because I’ve been so focused on the case,” Davis said in a phone interview, referring to his embattled lawsuit asking a judge for an injunction that would block his arrest and topple every 2020 federal election as, he asserted, deficient under the Help America Vote Act.

The hourlong interview touched upon various aspects of the well-publicized fallout of Davis’s trip to the nation’s capital a little more than a month ago. He lost his job after the video of him seen by millions tagged his former employer, Goosehead Insurance. That led him to write “fired for peacefully protesting” on the signature line of a lawsuit which referred to former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial as “null and void” and the “entire 117th Congress” as illegitimate.

Simultaneously playing defense and offense, Davis has litigated that lawsuit and fought for his ability to practice law in the same jurisdiction where the case is unfolding.

“Gondor Has No King”

Though a motion of his lawsuit quoted the The Lord of the Rings in declaring that “Gondor has no King,” Davis objected to the press coverage and downplayed the line as a literary reference common in legal briefings.

“It states that throughout there is nothing, nothing in that lawsuit that seeks to reinstall Donald Trump as president of the United States,” Davis said in the interview. “That is preposterous, completely fake news.”

However, as Law&Crime previously reported, one of Davis’s demands was for a federal judge to install former members of Trump’s cabinet as “stewards” — Davis borrowed that Tolkien term for Denethor II — to buffer the official acts of President Joe Biden. These “stewards,” Davis wrote, should work from the White House while Biden was exiled by federal agents to another property while still remaining the nominal president of the United States.

The lead plaintiffs on his case are groups called Latinos for Trump and Blacks for Trump, but Davis claimed that the “Return of the King” in his analogy referred not to Trump but to a return of a “legitimate form of government,” which he disputes the United States currently has.

“The idea is that both Republicans and Democrats colluded and were involved in a willful conspiracy to essentially deprive the American people of their legal right to cast a vote in this election and to have that vote legally counted and to, you know, have the guarantee that their vote was not diluted by lots of mail-in ballots,” Davis said, claiming those ballots are inherently vulnerable to fraud.

Pressed repeatedly on the issue, Davis said voter fraud evidence “may” be available, but he did not provide an example of it, as he asserts it is not needed to prove his case.

“This is not a fraud case,” Davis asserted in a line matching the concessions of Trump’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Kory Langhofer, verbatim.

Davis walked back some of those admissions in a follow-up email pointing to paragraphs of his lawsuit alleging electoral shenanigans by one of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s charities. In Wisconsin, another lawsuit attacking the election on the ground of “Zuckerberg money” failed.

Davis distanced himself from Giuliani and others, prefacing his lawsuit in Texas with the disclaimer [bolding ours]: “This is not a Sidney Powell lawsuit. This is not a Rudy Giuliani lawsuit. This is not a Lin Wood lawsuit. This is not a Team Trump lawsuit.” But his own legal action appears to be following a trajectory similar to that of more than 60 cases by Trump, his allies, and his proxies. U.S. District Judge Alan Albright, a Trump appointee, quickly found Davis’s claims “without merit” on Jan. 27.

Scoffing at that finding, Davis reacted: “I kind of laughed when I read the show-cause order because in my view, it was so weak.”

“My suspicion is that some law clerk in his office just drafted it, and he just rubber-stamped it because federal judges are busy,” the 39-year-old added, adding that this was “pure speculation.”

Judge Albright gave Davis until this past Wednesday to fix his claims or face dismissal. Davis filed a response; the docket that remains active at this time, and he maintains confidence and hope.

“I don’t see how the judge could possibly legally dismiss the case at this point,” he said.

“I Would Be Willing to Die”

Davis told Law&Crime that the lawsuit has been funded in part by an organization called the M90USA movement, whose name stands for “Middle 90% of the U.S.A.” He called himself a “secretary” for that group in a phone interview and then, in a follow-up email, denied a professional affiliation, other than unsolicited financial backing from them that he claimed did not benefit him personally.

Though large numbers of Republicans still believe widespread voter fraud occurred, the number falls on mostly one side of the spectrum and is far lower than the group’s name suggests. Some 37-percent of voters believe that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election, Quinnipiac found on Jan. 11.

Undaunted by the numbers, Davis wrote in a followup email: “I would point out that no movement ever begins with 90 percent popular support because, by definition, a ‘movement’ gains followers as it becomes known to the public what the movement actually is.”

He said that his firm has been in communication with a supporter of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who rejected Trump’s voter-fraud claims and voted to convict the 45th president for inciting an insurrection.

“In this lawsuit, our firm has one Bernie Sanders supporter I am in communication with who sees Bernie as the ‘populist’ candidate from the Democrat side and who may be interested in asserting such a claim in our case,” Davis wrote.

As Davis’s case teetered inside the Western District of Texas, a judge in the same judicial district referred Davis to the Disciplinary Committee for possible violation of the rules professional of conduct. Davis learned about the referral in a notification letter stamped “Confidential” from the chair of that committee: University of Texas at Austin law professor David M. Gonzalez, who did not disclose who made the referral.

Unprompted, Davis said that he did not believe that Judge Albright or the magistrate presiding over his case had anything to do with the inquiry.

“I can tell by the reputations, they seem to be very good men,” Davis said. “And so I have no reason to believe that the referral came from them.”

Though Texas Bar Rule 3.8 requires lawyers to report the professional misconduct of other lawyers, in the Western District of Texas, actual disciplinary referrals are judge-initiated. The unspecified judge suggested Davis’s conduct at the Capitol may have violated Texas Professional Rule 8.04, and the committee directed his attention to three sub-provisions which bar attorneys from committing a serious crime, engaging in fraud and misrepresentation, or committing obstruction of justice.

According to the letter obtained by Law&Crime, Gonzalez—who cited confidentiality rules in declining comment for this article—gave Davis two weeks to respond to the allegations while the professor assigned a subcommittee to investigate the matter.

“After this screening, if the subcommittee determines no further investigation is required and no discipline should be imposed, I will then inform the Chief Judge and you of the recommendation,” Gonzalez wrote in a document obtained by Law&Crime. “If, however, the screening subcommittee determines the referral may warrant disciplinary action, I will designate a panel of the Disciplinary Committee.”

Davis responded to that letter on Feb. 8.  He categorically denied each of the allegations, told the committee that he never stepped foot in the Capitol and appeared to characterize his fight as one to the death.

“I will not be intimidated by a baseless referral for my discipline. Neither will my clients or our legal team,” he wrote. “I will zealously fight for the rights of my clients, the rights of the American People, writ large, and my own Constitutional rights in the courts until I find a fair and just forum to grant the relief requested, or until it is clear that the American Courts have completely abdicated their duty to uphold justice and defend the Constitution. Even then, I will not go quietly until I draw my last breath.”

After Trump posted his call for supporters to descend upon the Capitol—with the Dec. 18th tweet “Be there, will be wild!”—Davis responded a day later with a similar message: “Never stop fighting Mr. President! Never give in no matter how ugly it gets! We are willing to die to preserve our freedom!”

Asked about that now-archived tweet, Davis doubled down on the statement in a text message: “I support freedom. And if persecuted for that. I would be willing to die.”

“An FBI Agent Came by My House”

Davis has not been charged with rioting or any crime, but the FBI did show up at his door.

“Let’s be honest: My attendance at the protest was no secret,” Davis said, saying that authorities questioned “pretty much everybody” who went to the Capitol on that day.

His description of his visibility at the Capitol is putting it mildly: the Twitter post that brought him to public attention that has been retweeted more than 32,000 times and liked more than 36,000 times. More than 2.5 million people have viewed the embedded footage by press time, and Goosehead fired Davis the next day. He has embraced his termination even in his Twitter handle, calling himself a “FiredTXLawyer” with a bio that reads: “media-labeled ‘Capitol Riot Attorney’ or ‘Gondor Atty.'”

With media visibility came law enforcement scrutiny: “An FBI agent came by my house, and I gave him a written statement,” Davis revealed to Law&Crime.

The FBI declined to comment on the visit.

Davis claims that he gave the agent the same statement that he provided the Texas disciplinary committee in a letter marked “Not Confidential.” That letter exposed the filings to public scrutiny.

“I did not enter the interior of the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021,” Davis wrote in that document. “In fact, I have never in my life set foot inside the U.S. Capitol building.”

Conceding that he wanted to go inside the building, Davis said he hoped to speak to various officials, yet only one of his representatives was willing to object to certification: Senator Ted Cruz, who become one of Trump’s most lockstep loyalists after 2016.

“I had been regularly calling and messaging my representatives,” Davis wrote of his efforts to build legislative support to overturn the 2020 election. “I did not get satisfactory responses from anyone other than Senator Cruz, so I wished to speak in person with Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Van Taylor.”

Davis said that he may have received a form letter from the Texas Republican, but he had been referring to Cruz’s support for objecting to the certification. Cruz’s office did not respond to an email requesting comment about the correspondence.

“Tear-Gassed. That Was Not Fun.”

Denying that he committed assault, Davis added he “cannot recall” whether he came into contact with a Capitol Police officer and seemingly blamed law enforcement if contact actually happened.

“I saw Capitol Police pushing elderly, unarmed, and/or otherwise defenseless people down stairs,” Davis wrote in his letter. “So, any such concern for my own safety was entirely reasonable.”

“To the extent I had any contact at all, it would have been purely incidental and non-violent in nature, such as coming into contact with a shield against my backside while balancing to prevent falling or being pushed down stairs in a concern for my own safety,” he wrote.

Prosecutors estimated that the documented pro-Trump mob committed nearly 140 assaults on law enforcement officers. Davis’s letter does not mention those attacks or the suspected murder of Officer Brian Sicknick. As recounted during the impeachment trial, two other officers died by suicide, another lost fingers and a one had an eye gouged. The impeachment trial described, and unspooled footage of, attacks against police with poles, riot shields and other objects.

In his interview with Law&Crime, Davis depicted the aggression he witnessed as one-sided—by police against what he portrayed as peaceful protesters.

“What I saw is a bunch of people standing there, you know, verbally protesting,” Davis said. “And then at some point, without warning, really at all. All these gas grenades go off around me. I was literally just standing there.”

In a message quoted by The Houston Chronicle, Davis compared the events of that day to “MLK-style civil disobedience,” not the violent melee recorded and witnessed by so many others. He insisted that he had not seen the photographs and footage until later.

His letter includes a transcript of the video:

Tear-gassed. That was not fun . . . All we’re doing is demanding that our public officials audit the vote; audit the Dominion machines; audit the ballots. There’s a way to do it. We can solve this in two days. If this was a legitimate election, then let us inspect it, and if Biden won, then let’s all go on with our lives. But, you know what? I don’t think that happened. And, the fact that they will not let us inspect any of the ballots or the machines should tell you something. And, we’re all trying to get into the Capitol to stop this, and this is what’s happening. They’re teargassing us, and uh . . . this is not acceptable, not acceptable. People are not gonna stand for this.

Davis conveyed multiple messages like that on his since-vanished Instagram account.

“For those of you claiming I was trying to ‘storm the Capitol,’ it’s obvious from my entire story that I was peacefully demonstrating,” he wrote. “They gassed the entire crowd that was standing there with me. I was not trying to break in. Was just talking to the police officers and praying over them.”

As Law&Crime previously reported, Davis wrote in a follow-up post that he did not intend anything violent by saying he and others were “trying to get into the capitol [sic].”

Instagram either deactivated, deleted, or locked him out of his account a day later, Davis said.

Dozens of lawsuits, audits, and recounts—and a parade of statements by former Trump officials—have affirmed that the 2020 election was free and fair. Chris Krebs, who was Trump’s former cybersecurity czar, joined a statement calling the race the most secure in U.S. history. U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig, a Trump appointee, rejected one of the 45th president’s cases on the merits, after both parties stipulated to the facts. State courts across the country also scrutinized evidence, including a Michigan judge rejecting “inadmissible hearsay within hearsay” and an Arizona judge blocked the admission a stack of form-letter generated affidavits. Trump and his allies’ legal efforts to challenge the 2020 election outcome eventually hit a final roadblock: the Supreme Court turned them away and a federal judge tossed a suit which claimed that Vice President Mike Pence had the power to reject certified Electoral College votes.

Throughout his hourlong phone interview and lengthy emails, Davis still maintained that the evidence still had not been adequately reviewed, insisted that pointing out the string of failed post-election lawsuits was misleading, and repeatedly attacked Law&Crime. He described follow-up questions about M90USA as a “fishing expedition.”

It was the same phrase he used to describe a federal judge’s disciplinary referral to the grievance committee.

Read the once-confidential notice of the disciplinary inquiry below:

[Paul M Davis via Social Media by way of KDFW-TV]

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.