Attorney on Trump Call With Raffensperger Resigns From Law Firm

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Writer
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
January 5, 2021 Updated: January 6, 2021

An attorney who was on a phone call between President Donald Trump and Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has resigned from her law firm, following widespread public scrutiny of the conversation.

Attorney Cleta Mitchell, who has been assisting with Trump’s election legal efforts in Georgia, informed management from her firm Foley & Lardner on Jan. 5 that she will resign from her position as a partner at the firm, effective immediately.

“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,” the law firm said in a statement.

Mitchell, who has been a partner at the firm for nearly 20 years, explained her reasons for resigning in an email obtained by The Epoch Times that was sent to clients and friends. The email stated that she, her firm, and her clients have been receiving “massive pressure” from “leftist groups via social media and other means” following the release of the Trump-Raffensperger call.

“As you are probably aware, there has been a massive pressure campaign in the last several days mounted by leftist groups via social media and other means against me, my law firm, and clients of the law firm, because of my personal involvement with President Trump, his campaign and the White House, related to the November 3 general election in Georgia,” she wrote in her email.

“After discussions with my firm’s management, I have decided that it is in both of our interests that I leave the Firm.

“I have come to the conclusion, however, that I do not wish to distract the Firm, my colleagues or our clients with the ongoing campaign of hateful, vile, and offensive attacks that have inundated our Firm and clients, and which I know will persist from these left-wing pressure groups.  That is not good for anyone and especially not good for our clients.”

Mitchell’s participation in the call and involvement in Trump’s post-election efforts were heavily scrutinized following the release of the leaked audio recording of the call between the president and Raffensperger. Media outlets and lawmakers were quick to accuse the president of malfeasance, alleging that Trump was pressuring Raffensperger for more votes.

But a transcript of the leaked conversation, which was said to be a confidential legal settlement discussion over several Georgia lawsuits, shows Trump was mainly reiterating most of his claims about election irregularities and concerns about “illegal votes” cast and counted in the state.

Throughout the call, Trump repeatedly told Raffensperger and his legal team that he needed about 11,780 votes in order to flip the state, which is less than the number of votes the Trump team is alleging were cast under fraudulent circumstances. The margin in Georgia between Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Trump is 11,779.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House on Dec. 12, 2020. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)

Raffensperger and his lawyer, Ryan Germany, repeatedly countered Trump’s claims during the call, generally asserting that the issues raised by the president were either inaccurate or have been probed and shown to be untrue.

The state officials also refused to provide more transparency over the election results, by refusing a request for access to the secretary of state’s election data.

“You can keep telling us and making public statements that you investigated this and [there’s] nothing to see here. But we don’t know about that,” Mitchell said during the call, according to the transcript. “All we know is what you tell us. What I don’t understand is why wouldn’t it be in everyone’s best interest to try to get to the bottom, compare the numbers, you know, if you say, because … to try to be able to get to the truth, because we don’t have any way of confirming what you’re telling us.”

“You tell us that you had an investigation at the State Farm Arena. I don’t have any report. I’ve never seen a report of investigation. I don’t know that is. I’ve been pretty involved in this, and I don’t know. And that’s just one of 25 categories,” she told the officials.

Georgia's Secretary Of State Holds News Conference On Election Ballot Count
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger holds a press conference on the status of ballot counting in Atlanta, on Nov. 6, 2020. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

On Jan. 4, Foley & Lardner released a statement about Mitchell’s involvement in the call. They said they had issued a policy over not representing any parties in connection to matters related to the 2020 election, but didn’t bar their attorneys from “observing election recounts and similar actions on a voluntary basis in their individual capacity as private citizens so long as they did not act as legal advisers.”

They added that they were concerned by Mitchell’s level of participation in Trump’s Georgia efforts in relation to their policy.

This comes as lawyers representing the president and his campaign have revealed that they have been harassed or intimidated following their decision to take up election cases.

A former judge from Wisconsin, James Troupis, who is now representing the Trump campaign in the state, told a Senate committee in December that he believes intimidation by the left has prevented lawyers from taking up election-related cases.

“One of the reasons I was called was because virtually every major law firm in this country and in this city refused to represent the president. Not because of the lack of merit in his claims—we’ve certainly demonstrated that there’s merit—but because of the cancel culture,” Troupis said.

“Because of the environment that has been created by the left that has intimidated lawyers so that they can’t be here. They’re not here from the giant law firms precisely because they were ordered by their management committees and others that, ‘You cannot take those cases. The reasons you cannot take those cases is because our clients, or the Democrat Party, or the incoming administration will remember that and they will hold it against you.’

“As a former judge, I was so incensed by that.”

Meanwhile, Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis said she’s received “hundreds” of threats, including anonymous phone calls, since taking up election cases.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Writer
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.