Private emails reveal how Trump's far-right lawyer ended up on a government election commission
Mitchell photo by Foley & Lardner, LLP and Trump photo by the White House.

CNN obtained emails revealing former President Donald Trump was pushing the appointment of his lawyer Cleta Mitchell to the federal election advisory board.

According to the emails, conservatives were working well before the Nov. 2020 election to get his hand-picked person on the Election Assistance Commission, which is supposed to be an independent agency that gives election guidelines for states.

Mitchell was one of those who participated in Trump's infamous phone call where he demanded that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R-GA) "find" 11,780 votes so that he could win the Georgia election.

The story of how she was appointed to that board "underscores how a core faction of Republicans has focused on pushing unsupported claims of widespread voter fraud even before Trump convinced much of the Republican Party to buy into his election lies that the 2020 election had been stolen," CNN wrote.

Raffensperger, along with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, is facing well-funded allies of Trump's in a GOP primary that will reveal the extent to which the former president can control the voters after his "big lie" election conspiracy. Polls still indicate that the overwhelming majority (70 percent) of Republican voters believe that the 2020 election was won by Trump.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution/University of Georgia poll revealed that 45 percent of GOP primary voters indicated they would prefer to vote for a candidate that had Trump's endorsement. It might explain why Trump's hand-picked candidate, disgraced Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) is failing with just 27 percent of the vote as of April.

"According to the House committee investigating the insurrection and a Washington Post report disclosing White House records, Trump also spoke with Mitchell on the evening of Jan. 6, 2021," said CNN.

Mitchell left her law firm after the Trump Georgia call that was recorded and sent to the media. Now, however, she gets to influence election policy inside the government after her boss was voted out of office. She was appointed after an appointment to a government group developing civil rights policy and civil rights enforcement of the law.

"The emails obtained by CNN show how conservatives on the civil rights commission worked for months to gain a Republican appointment to the election advisory board," said CNN. "After two Trump appointments in 2020 gave the civil rights commission a 4-4 partisan split, the conservatives threatened to stop the commission’s work in a bid for concessions – including a Republican election board appointment – in exchange for approving the civil rights commission’s new Democratic chair."

“I made it plain to her we could stop the business of the commission if we were not treated fairly, and fairness is all we want,” wrote Trump-appointed civil rights commissioner J. Christian Adams. He was the one who pushed the addition of Mitchell.

Adams is no stranger to claims of voter fraud when there aren't any. In fact, he was part of Trump's "election integrity commission" that aimed to find 3 million undocumented "Mexicans" who voted illegally. They never did and Trump ended the commission. A commissioner later revealed that they found no evidence of voter fraud.

When CNN asked for comment, Adams claimed the conservative appointment could work because the rules required the vote to be bipartisan "and that needed to be fixed."

“We had the votes to get it done, and we got it done,” he said. “Cleta Mitchell has been a breath of fresh air on the advisory board already. Too often insiders don’t hear outside perspectives so I am thrilled that she is bringing diverse viewpoints that the advisory board might have not heard before.”

The chief of the commission admitted she wasn't pleased with the appointment.

Mitchell is now using language around election "confidence" to justify election restrictions. There are people who feel bad, after buying into the 2020 "big lie." Thus the law should cater to the feelings of the minority and restrict the votes of the majority of voters.

“We need to make this as transparent as possible to restore confidence in the voting systems,” she said. “I think this is probably one of the biggest challenges that we face in elections today.”

In Aug. 2020, Adams pushed voter fraud claims before the election had even been conducted. He told former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows on Nov. 9, 2020, that Mitchell offered to start a non-profit group “to deal with raising money and paying for the cyber portion" of the election fraud claims. "She offered to do it if necessary.”

Adams then tried to have Democratic colleague Michael Yaki removed from the commission. At the time, Yaki was pushing a plan to ensure that the U.S. Postal Service meet mail-in-ballot deadlines because it might be "incapable" of doing so, the emails show. The rest of the commission blocked him from doing anything about it.

“My question is how does he get UNDONE from the EAC oversight commission? How does that get revoked and replaced?” Adams asked in another email to Meadows.

"The Republicans on the Civil Rights Commission discovered in the fall of 2020 that appointments to the election advisory board were supposed to be bipartisan, but both were Democrats. They also found that the commissioners had never voted on the current appointments, the emails show," said CNN.

So, Republicans sent a letter from the GOP Civil Rights commission asking the Election Assistance Commission to question the legitimacy of the Democratic appointees.

“There are significant doubts that this ‘appointment’ was actually an appointment that followed our Commission’s regular procedures,” they wrote in the letter.

It was only after Joe Biden took over that the Civil Rights commissioners began renegotiating the rules for the next appointment to the election commission.

“If we were to appoint Commissioner Adams to the EAC there would be some pretty significant public blow back,” wrote a communications aide.

By July 2021 the GOP chairs put Mitchell and Adams in as their two candidates. The Democrats chose Mitchell over Adams. Then they raised ethical concerns about Mitchell. She serves on Adams' election integrity organization. The general counsel of the commission declared there was no conflict and there shouldn't be any kind of outside investigation.

Read the full report at CNN.