We now have perhaps the first noteworthy instance in which a lawyer has faced consequences for egregious conduct in service to President Trump. The Post reports: “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.” This comes after the firm said it was “concerned by” her participation in the call, widely interpreted as a clumsy attempt to threaten and cajole Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger into changing his state’s certified vote. The firm, tellingly, made clear it represents no one “seeking to contest the results of the election.”

Let’s unpack this. First, Mitchell resigned, but who believes that she left voluntarily after having been publicly rebuked by her own law firm? Second, the firm’s desire to specify that it is not representing anyone seeking to challenge the election — which would include the large number of Republican House members, the Senate’s “Sedition Caucus” and Trump — might lead one to conclude it was worried about its reputation. Clients, I can imagine, don’t want to be represented by pro-putsch law firms. Lawyers do not want to work for such people. Third, this is not enough.

Recall that Mitchell took part in a call in which Trump told Raffensperger to “find” just enough votes (11,780) to shift the state to his column. Worse, she made a demand in that call for data that would prove dead people voted, a spurious and false allegation. “[We] took the names and birth years, and we had certain information available to us. We have asked from your office for records that only you have, and so we said there is a universe of people who have the same name and same birth year and died,” she said.

That’s not all. The conversation continues:

Mitchell: The number who have registered out of state after they moved from Georgia. And so they had a date when they moved from Georgia, they registered to vote out of state, and then it's like 4,500, I don't have that number right in front of me.
Trump: And then they came back in, and they voted.
Mitchell: And voted. Yeah.
Trump: I thought that was a large number, though. It was in the 20s.
Ryan Germany, Raffensperger’s general counsel: We’ve been going through each of those as well, and those numbers that we got, that Ms. Mitchell was just saying, they’re 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. And in many cases —
Trump: How may people do that? They moved out, and then they said, ‘Ah, to hell with it, I’ll move back.’ You know, it doesn’t sound like a very normal . . . you mean, they moved out, and what, they missed it so much that they wanted to move back in? It’s crazy.
Germany: They moved back in years ago. This was not like something just before the election. So there’s something about that data that, it’s just not accurate.

She plainly has taken an active part in the effort to force the secretary of state to change the vote to her client’s favor. At a minimum, state and federal investigators need to review applicable law and determine if Trump and Mitchell broke any laws. There is no attorney-client privilege to protect a conspiracy to engage in illegal activity.

Former congressman Tom Coleman (R-Mo.) asks the right question:

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Beyond the criminal law, Mitchell has ethical obligations. As a lawyer, she is an officer of the court. That means she’s bound by the rules of professional conduct not to make materially false statements of fact to anyone — not just courts, but third parties like Raffensperger. For instance, the D.C. Bar’s ethics rule 4.1 provides that “in the course of representing a client, a lawyer shall not knowingly . . . [make] a false statement of material fact or law to a third person.”

In a larger sense, the effort to overthrow the elected winner of a presidential election on baseless charges of fraud or subterfuge contradicts the framework under which all lawyers must operate. Lawyers who assist an assault on our election rather than uphold the law, including the Constitution’s provisions regarding the election of the president, besmirch the essence of ethical advocacy. Mitchell dishonors herself and the profession.

Listen to the full Jan. 2 phone call. This audio has been edited to remove the name of an individual about whom the president makes unsubstantiated allegations. (Obtained by The Washington Post)

In response to The Post’s report, Mitchell declined to comment. But The Post did obtain a letter she sent to friends and clients in which she wrote that “a massive pressure campaign in the last several days mounted by leftist groups . . . because of my personal involvement with President Trump.”

The loss of Mitchell’s job may be the first adverse consequence a Trump lawyer has suffered following the election, but it should not be the last. Authorities from D.C., Georgia and the federal government must investigate such behavior, and bar authorities must do their part to protect the integrity of the legal profession. Mitchell and Trump’s other lawyers have plenty to answer for.

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