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Cleta Mitchell, who advised Trump on Saturday phone call, resigns from law firm

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 1/5/2021 Michael Kranish

Republican lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who advised President Trump during his Saturday phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state in an effort to overturn the election, resigned on Tuesday as a partner in the Washington office of the law firm Foley & Lardner.

Mitchell’s resignation came after the law firm on Monday issued a statement saying it was “concerned by” her role in the call. The firm noted that as a matter of policy, its attorneys do not represent “any parties seeking to contest the results of the election.”

The Washington Post on Sunday published audio and a transcript of the hour-long call in which Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn the election results. During the call, Mitchell complained that she had not been given access to certain information from Raffensperger’s office, and Trump relied on her to an extraordinary degree during the call.

The Post on Monday published a story detailing Mitchell’s transition from being a liberal Democrat to a conservative Republican, culminating in her role advising Trump during the call.

In its statement on Tuesday, the law firm said: “Cleta Mitchell has informed firm management of her decision to resign from Foley & Lardner effective immediately. Ms. Mitchell concluded that her departure was in the firm’s best interests, as well as in her own personal best interests. We thank her for her contributions to the firm and wish her well.”

Mitchell declined to comment. In a letter obtained by The Post that she sent Tuesday to friends and clients, she did not make any reference to whether her actions violated the law firm’s policies, or whether the firm was right to say that it was concerned about her actions.

Instead, she blamed what she called “a massive pressure campaign in the last several days mounted by leftist groups . . . because of my personal involvement with President Trump” and the Georgia election.

She wrote that she resigned because she did not want to be a distraction for the firm, but she vowed to continue her practice related to election law.

“Those who deny the existence of voter and election fraud are not in touch with facts and reality,” she wrote.

Mitchell, 70, is a onetime Democratic member of the Oklahoma legislature who became a Republican and has made a Washington career representing GOP candidates, committees and causes, culminating with her work after the election advising Trump.

[Here’s the full transcript and audio of the call between Trump and Raffensperger]

In the Saturday call, Trump told Raffensperger that he risked facing criminal consequences if he didn’t “find” enough votes to declare that the president had won the state. Raffensperger responded that “the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.”

Trump then asked Mitchell, “Well, Cleta, how do you respond to that? Maybe you tell me?”

Mitchell complained to Raffensperger that “we have asked from your office for records that only you have” but that they had not received them.

Mitchell raised her claim that around 4,500 people voted after having moved out of Georgia. Trump interjected that the number was “in the 20s,” apparently meaning in the 20,000s, but Raffensperger’s general counsel, Ryan Germany, said those numbers were not accurate: “Every one we’ve been through are people that lived in Georgia, moved to a different state, but then moved back to Georgia legitimately.”

Mitchell concluded her contribution by saying that she hadn’t even addressed the claim that voting machines were rigged, which Georgia officials denied. Trump interjected that “we don’t need” to prove that machines were rigged.

Trump said, “All we have to do, Cleta, is find 11,000-plus votes.”

Cleta Mitchell et al. taking a selfie: Cleta Mitchell testifies on Capitol Hill in 2014. © Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Cleta Mitchell testifies on Capitol Hill in 2014.

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