Designated Survivor Wiki

Ethan West is a prominent Washington D.C. lawyer. West was an influential figure in government formally serving as a Supreme Court clerk, a United States attorney, and the Solicitor General of the United States. After he left the public sector, he founded the prestigious law firm West and Farris. While he served as the managing partner at his firm, West developed a reputation for impartiality and never losing a case. West has a deep passion for practicing law and his actions seem to be driven by his disdain for corruption in politics.


investigating Kirkman's Capacity

After the public learned that President Tom Kirkman was receiving therapy after the death of his wife the Cabinet of the United States began to lose faith in Kirkman’s ability to govern. Vice president Ellenor Darby held a secret meeting with the cabinet where a majority of cabinet secretaries decided to invoke the 25th Amendment. Darby felt unsure about ratifying the cabinet's decision so she hired Ethan West to conduct a confidential inquiry so President Kirkman would have the opportunity to defend himself. West was excited for the opportunity to create legal precedent by engineering the rules for a hearing investigating the President’s competence. While planning the hearing He fought with White House Counsel Kendra Daynes who tried to get him to make concessions that gave the administration leverage in the legal process. West later has a meeting with President Kirkman who presented him with a blank piece of paper. West was confused by this gesture and the president informed him that he had no demands and that West could run the hearing anyway he wanted. He was intrigued by the president’s decision to put his faith in the legal process but at the same time, he promised not to go easy on Kirkman.

Presidential Capacity Hearing

West built a strong case to undermine President Kirkman which focused on Kirkman’s mental health and impulsive decision-making. He cited the United States war with Kunami and leaks from the White House as proof that the president had failed as a leader. West was able to assemble an impressive array of witnesses including White House staff members, Dr. Adam Louden, Dr. Andrea Frost, Trey Kirkman and President Cornelius Moss to attest to the flaws of the president. Partway through the trial West approached the president and even though he felt he was winning he offered Kirkman a deal. West promised that if Kirkman resigned from the presidency he could resume his former post as HUD Secretary. Kirkman rebuffed the offer and prepared his own testimony for the hearing. West vigorously questioned President Kirkman but the president was able to deliver moving testimony despite West’s attempt to undermine him. Eventually, a majority of the president’s cabinet decided Kirkman should remain president since the hearing gave them a new appreciation for the president’s leadership and integrity. Later that night West approached the president to discuss the outcome of the hearing. Kirkman asked West about how he felt about losing the case but West responded that he felt that he won because he was able to conduct a successful hearing that evaluated the president's competence. The president insinuated that must be nice to live in a world where you can't lose but West simply responded “No, sir. It's awful”.

Bultan Incident

American teenager Matthew Jennings traveled to Bultan and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for creating a graffiti smiley face on the side of a building. The Bultani government hoped to use Jennings to leverage the United States into allowing Bultan to exploit the oil reserves of the Pulu Islands. When West heard about Jennings’ situation he contacted the teenager's family and agreed to represent them. West approached Kirkman at a presidential gala and inquired about the administration's strategy to help Jennings. He later opened a dialogue with the Bultani ambassador suggesting that the Kirkman administration might be willing to make concessions to secure Jennings’ freedom. This put West in conflict with the White House who felt that he was trying to illegally conduct negotiations on behalf of the United States government. West also began to make appearances on various media outlets trying to drum up public support for Jenning’s cause by claiming that the Bultani prime minister and President Kirkman were corrupt. Kirkman summons West to the White House and persuades him that they should not be fighting with each other and instead should pool their resources together to launch a campaign to free Jennings. It is revealed that West knew Matthew Jennings’ Aunt Allie Jennings when he was in college. Allie Jennings was murdered in 1998 and West felt responsible because he stood her up. When West heard about Matthew Jennings he agreed to represent the family as a way to make amends to his deceased friend. With help from the White House West was able to learn that Bultan had already begun to exploit the resources of the Pulu Islands. In a joint call, Kirkman and West addressed the Bultani prime minister’s threats to add another 10 years onto Matthew Jenning's prison sentence. West threatened to aggressively sue Bultan in front of every international court and tribunal for their breach of environmental law. This gave President Kirkman the leverage he needed to force the prime minister to commune Matthew Jenning's sentence from prison time to an agreement that he would conduct community service by cleaning up any graffiti that he created.

Special Counsel Investigation

The Kirkman administration begins pondering whether former President Cornelius Moss should be prosecuted for leaking classified information. The senior staff suggests that Kirkman should have Attorney General Ray Beckett appoint an independent special counsel to investigate the charges. At this point Press Secretary Seth Wright informs President Kirkman that West was giving media interviews taking credit for securing Matthew Jennings relief and claiming that the White House offered no significant aid. This inspires Kirkman to appoint West at the special counsel since he is famously impartial and is a rival of the White House. Lyor Boone approached West at a restaurant to discuss the special counsel position. Boone explained that West would report directly to the Attorney General and would be given independence and a mandate. The two agreed that it would be best if there was no coordination with the White House which led West to demanded that Boone leave immediately. West began the investigation by interviewing National Security Advisor Aaron Shore inquiring on FBI agent Hannah Wells investigation of President Moss. He later interviewed President Moss directly. West began the interview by asking about the leaking of classified information but President Moss manipulated the conversation redirecting it towards potential abuses carried out by agent Wells. Later when West interviewed President Kirkman he revealed that he felt that Moss was only guilty of poor decision-making and narcissism. The investigation had led West to believe that the president had used Hannah Wells to carry out attacks against his political opponents.


West Special Counsel investigation concluded that Hannah Wells was guilty of burglary, witness tampering, and obstruction of government proceedings. The Special Counsel suggested that since President Kirkman gave her the authority to carry out those crimes he should be charged as a co-conspirator. Attorney General Beckett felt that charging the president with a crime would spark a constitutional crisis so he worked with congressional leadership to form a compromise. The Attorney General and senior Democrat and Republican senators agreed that if President Kirkman agreed not to run for reelection the Department of Justice would decline to press charges against him.

President Moss later invited West to an upscale restaurant and tried to coerce him into accepting a job as a senior advisor to Moss’ presidential campaign. Moss then proceeded to thank West for redirecting his investigation onto Kirkman but West insisted that he was doing his duty as a lawyer. The former president continued to highlight how West has helped him which made the lawyer increasingly more uncomfortable.

West's meeting with Moss inspired him to meet with President Kirkman one last time. When the two met West had informed the President that Moss had offered him a job which he had no intention of taking. West then went on to explain how Moss, Congress, and the Attorney General were all conspiring against Kirkman to gain power. Kirkman expressed surprise that West had been in Washington politics for a significant time without realizing the backstabbing and corruption. West had claimed that he had always known about the corruption in Washington but was surprised about Kirkman’s integrity. He explained that he now believed that Kirkman always served the American people without ulterior motive or compromise. When Kirkman lamented that he would not be able to serve much longer, West gifted him the blank piece of paper the president had previously given him and remarked that there was value in not compromising. The president did not initially understand the gesture but when he was giving his speech to announce that he would not run for president again the answer came to him. West had believed that someone like Kirkman who served the American people without compromise was the kind of President the nation needed. This caused Kirkman to change gears and announce his candidacy for president as a independent. Later West amended his report to clear Kirkman of any wrongdoing which led to the Attorney General following suit.