Representative democracy is fine, but let’s not get carried away here.
That appears to be the stance of Trump attorney Cleta Mitchell in her acrimonious Jan. 6 select committee interview on May 18, 2022. Mitchell, who was quickly replaced by Foley & Lardner after her involvement in the Trump campaign’s overthrow efforts in President Biden’s victory in Georgia, seemed largely unfazed by the voters’ voiced wishes.
Here she explains that under the Constitution, state legislators have the right to simply reject the results of a presidential election if they don’t like the result:
Let me make something very clear. The United States Constitution grants state legislatures full power to elect state electors. Congress passed legislation that is an enabling act, which I happen to think is unconstitutional because those powers given to state legislatures in the Constitution are complete and complete. The Constitution says nothing about allowing people, citizens, to vote on electors. Well, that’s something lawmakers have decided over time that they want to do. But in my view, under the Constitution, this is an advisory role that takes place because the legislature created a mechanism to conduct the election. And assuming that this mechanism is carried out in accordance with the laws that the legislature has enacted to allow citizens to speak out and raise their voices, then the legislature can use — choose to do that use what the people have decided. But that’s not in the constitution. And so I think that’s one of the things that we didn’t really have — as a country, we didn’t focus on that. But that’s what the constitution says. So it’s not like picking an alternate list of voters. The legislature has the power to choose voters. And I don’t think they have to ask anyone about their position.
And here she explains that Congress has the constitutional right to simply refuse a state’s voters for any reason or no reason at all:
I have a report that someone sent me maybe last year going through the history of the United States and the number of times members of Congress have said I will not vote to confirm those voters. And they don’t have to have a reason. You can just say I don’t vote for it. And they did. And many more Democrats than Republicans have done that over the years. So there is a long history of what happened. Now Mike Lee is a constitutionalist and he came to believe that without a competing group of voters he did not have the constitutional prerogative to reject the electoral list. It’s up to him. I respect that. I don’t agree with that, but for heaven’s sake I’m not going to argue with Mike Lee about the Constitution.
In fact, she seems quite skeptical about the general vote, claiming that money being spent by the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative to increase voter turnout is a violation of state election law. Similarly, she pointed to the measures enacted during the pandemic to increase ballot access as “a pretext for repealing the duly enacted statutes passed by state legislatures.”
“Well, you might have a different view, but we are lawyers and we both have the right to interpret the law as we see fit,” she said, implicitly acknowledging that her views are a bit outside of the mainstream , adding that: “I don’t think people should be massacred or jailed or expelled because they have a different legal view than you do.”
Who is being massacred, Cleta?
If these crazy theories sound familiar, it’s because they were also put forward by Trump’s Coups 4 Dummies attorney John Eastman, whom Mitchell called “one of the most brilliant attorneys I know, and he’s brilliant at constitutional law and constitutional history.” Eastman was also severed from his job at Chapman University Law School when his connection to the bogus election program came to light — and it’s not the only connection between these two.
Mitchell repeatedly referenced one of Trump’s electoral challenges in Georgia in her testimony, and not only made false claims about a treacherous failure to assign a judge in a timely manner (the delay was the fault of Team Trump, who rushed the gun on an appeal). , but claimed she presented evidence of thousands of votes illegally cast, more than sufficient to tip Biden’s winning margin.
It appears Eastman was referring to this in an email dated December 31, 2020, in which he wrote: “Although the President has signed an acknowledgment for [the state court filing] As early as December 1, he was made aware that some of the claims (and evidence presented by the experts) were inaccurate. It would not be accurate if he signed a new certification knowing this (and being incorporated by reference).” U.S. District Judge David O. Carter voided the attorney-client privilege for that email under the felony fraud exception because Eastman appeared to tried to get his way by having Trump sign a false certificate. But the fact that even Eastman knew Mitchell’s numbers were nonsense is… pretty funny. And not for nothing, but Trump signed it anyway.
Also comical was Mitchell’s stubborn attempts to ignore the inconsistencies in her own position. Why bother to sue when the state legislature and the US Congress could simply refuse the electors? Why has she only questioned ballot access and COVID change initiatives in swing states where Democrats won? Wouldn’t their fakakta theories mean that Democrats had the right to refuse Red State electors if they controlled the Senate? How could she possibly claim attorney-client privilege for her communications with the White House Office? And if she viewed Mike Pence’s role as “ministerial” on Jan. 6, why was she proposing that he have Georgia’s electoral list rejected because litigation was pending?
But no issue caused more fireworks than her denial that she had anything to do with the fake election manifesto, despite multiple communications suggesting otherwise:
STAFF CONTRACT: Senator Lee says, “I think that’s the best way to put it, that our role (in terms of a state’s electoral votes) is triggered by the existence of a competing list of voters?” And then Senator Lee says: “That seems to be the ideal point to get my colleagues involved.” You say yes. So today I asked the White House to organize this as soon as possible.” I’m trying to understand – I’m trying to understand what Ms. Mitchell is saying.
MITCHELL: It seems to me that it speaks for itself. The messages speak for themselves.
PERSONNEL CONTRACT: Are you refusing to answer the question I put to you?
MITCHELL: I’m not refusing to answer. You always ask me the same thing and I always tell you the same thing.
PERSONNEL CONTRACT: I don’t think you answered.
MITCHELL: I think the state legislatures have some authority, and I think members of Congress have separate responsibility and authority. And I don’t think any of this, any of this, should get so high that you’re bothering me, because I’m an attorney and I’m having a conversation with a senator about the constitutional prerogatives of the senate.
PERSONNEL CONTRACT: Ms. Mitchell, I’m not –
MITCHELL: Yes, you are. And I don’t refuse to answer. I tell you, the document speaks for itself. That’s the talk. That’s pretty much how I remember it. And I want to keep going.
The ugliness lasted for several minutes, at the end of which Mitchell finally admitted, “Maybe, yes,” her was She suggested that she had told the White House that they had to organize “competing constituency groups” to satisfy members of Congress, who would have to reject those legitimately elected by the electorate.
In the end, she was neither massacred nor imprisoned. She wasn’t even disfellowshipped! But if you asked her, Mitchell would no doubt tell you that she’s the real victim here.
Cleta Mitchell transcript