Tuesday, June 06, 2023

The Cleta Mitchell Nexus


Last Friday, WRAL's investigative reporter Will Doran broke the story that election-denying Trump lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who was heavily involved with Trump in trying to overturn the 2020 election result and who is on record saying that Republicans have to do something to make it harder for college students to vote ("Top GOP lawyer decries ease of campus voting in private pitch to RNC") -- that Cleta Mitchell met privately with GOP lawmakers in Raleigh before they released the text of their new voter suppression law. Doran made the case effectively that Mitchell got pretty much what she wanted in the new law for making absentee voting harder, while GOP leaders hotly denied that Mitchell had any hand in writing the new law. In fact, Senate boss Phil Berger admitted that the mere association of Mitchell could hurt the public perception of the new law -- if it were true, which it is not, proclaimed Berger, and why wouldn't we believe him?

We assume the Republican lawmakers didn't have Mitchell in for tea and grooming tips. We also know, from Berger's reaction to the leaked documents that revealed the Mitchell meeting, that the Republicans are nervous about a further riled-up electorate which is already riled up about women's rights.

When reporter Doran asked Berger if he was concerned about public perception that a trumpist as notorious as Cleta Mitchell had a hand in drafting new voter legislation, Berger answered, “If it were true, yeah. I understand that she and other people have said some things that folks are concerned about. I can assure that she has not had any role in the drafting of the legislation.”

Why Is Cleta Mitchell Notorious?

Take a gander at her Wikipedia listing. She trails a long history of hyper-conservative activism, but the following is probably the source of Berger's angst in seeing her name associated with his new voting law:

On January 2, 2021, she participated in the hour-long telephone conversation between Trump and Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, during which Trump pressured Raffensperger to investigate unsupported claims disputing the results of the 2020 presidential election based on doctored videos and unsubstantiated rumors from right-wing media. Following that telephone call, Mitchell accused Raffensperger of saying things "that are simply not correct" about the presidential results in Georgia. Two days later, after Mitchell's participation in the call was reported, the law firm of Foley & Lardner (where Mitchell was a partner) released a statement saying that the law firm's policy was not to represent parties seeking to contest the results of the 2020 election; that the firm was "aware of, and concerned by" Mitchell's participation in the telephone call; and that the firm was "working to understand her involvement more thoroughly." Mitchell resigned from Foley & Lardner the next day. The firm said that Mitchell "concluded that her departure was in the firm's best interests, as well as in her own personal best interests." Mitchell blamed her resignation on a purported "massive pressure campaign" allegedly launched by leftist groups on social media.


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