Cleta Mitchell Skates

Judge McBurney has released the report from Fani Willis’ special grand jury.

The grand jury recommended charges against a number of people who weren’t charged. Most attention has focused on the recommendations to charge David Purdue, Kelli Loeffler, and Lindsey Graham. I had always thought that Lindsey wouldn’t be charged because he is protected by Speech and Debate (a judgment that may be supported by the DC Circuit’s still-sealed partial reversal of Beryl Howell’s ruling permitting DOJ to access some Scott Perry records from his phone). But it seemed there was less support for those charges, generally, than for others. On the main RICO charge, four grand jurors voted against charging Purdue, six voted against charging Loeffler, and seven voted against charging Graham. There was broad support for charging Purdue for pressuring GA officials, but one of the grand jurors who voted against charging the GA Senators believed they were simply pandering to their base. And the foreperson said that Lindsey was charming in his grand jury appearance.

Those votes may be a read of how an eventual grand jury would vote on these cases. Only the votes against charging the alternate electors was less supportive.

Which is why I find the Cleta Mitchell recommendations far more intriguing. By wide margins, the grand jury voted to charge Cleta in conjunction with the January 2 call to Brad Raffensperger, the fake electors plot, and the RICO charge. But she — a prominent Georgian — was not charged.

It’s possible that some of Willis’ ultimate decisions were influenced by her perception (or that of her prosecutors) of the political will for charging prominent Georgians. It’s possible she has made charging decisions that limit the amount of institutional GOP pushback. Or it’s possible that Cleta testified in a way that made other charges — potentially including Mark Meadows — viable.

But one of the most toxic Georgians skated on this prosecution.

Update: Corrected spelling of Willis’ first name.

Update: Anna Bower’s review of the report is typically excellent.

95 replies
  1. WilliamOckham says:

    That was literally the first thing I noticed. I’ve been wondering [checks calendar] for years why Mitchell hasn’t been charged in some jursidiction.

  2. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    And am I mistaken in my assumption that this outcome just might encourage Cleta to participate in some similar harebrained scheme somewhere down the road?

    • Rwood0808 says:

      If you don’t prosecute sedition it becomes strategy.

      I wonder if Kari Lake is pissed that she didn’t get indicted too?

      • bjet says:

        Cleta Mitchell doesn’t skate, she has ice cleats on the prekarious lake, waiting for the signal to fall back in line behind Cheney 2.0 power skating the Kari, Kristi, Nikki & Sarah pom poms into the sparkly white washed dust of standard earth destroying GOP policies, straight back into our White House without argument —AGAIN, because the opposition has so obseqiously dulled their blades on the low dangling avocados of politically vapid ‘Trumpism.’

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You changed your username to “misnomer bjet” recently to meet the site’s 8-letter minimum standard. Please use it each time you comment or your comments may get stuck in moderation. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  3. HGillette says:

    There was strong (nearly unanimous) support for indicting Michael Flynn. I wonder why he wasn’t charged.

  4. Morganism says:

    (this is the first 14th claim i have seen that claims a personal standing in a filing…)

    New Hampshire

    In a joint August statement, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella and Secretary of State David Scanlan announced that they are looking into the “potential applicability” of the 14th amendment with regards to the upcoming presidential election cycle.

    Both Formella and Scanlan added that they have “not taken any position” regarding whether the 14th amendment can be applied to Trump.

    John Anthony Castro, a longshot Republican 2024 presidential candidate, also filed a complaint in a New Hampshire court arguing that Trump should be banned from the state’s primary ballot while arguing the former president engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the U.S.

    The suit is due to be heard by the Supreme Court, where it is expected to be decided on or before October 9.

    Castro argues his suit is justified as he will be directly impacted if the “constitutionally ineligible” Trump is also on the 2024 ballots as it would affect his own White House ambitions

    “Castro will further suffer irreparable competitive injuries if Trump, who is constitutionally ineligible to hold office, is able to attempt to secure votes in primary elections and raise funds. Trump’s constitutionally unauthorized undertaking will put Castro at both a voter and donor disadvantage,” he said.

    The court distributed John Castro v. Donald Trump to the justices for conference on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming term, which will begin on October 2. Conference is to take place on September 26 and the case is expected to be decided on or before October 9.

    (yeah its newsweek, but…)

    • bmaz says:

      Castro is a complete crackpot that may not have standing, and his residence for jurisdiction is, well, questionable. People are biting off on hype and crackpottery.

  5. Savage Librarian says:

    Cleta B. Deatherage was born in OK. One of the things her mother’s obituary says is this:

    Oleiva Modean Lane Deatherage

    “Modean’s proudest accomplishment was raising her six children by herself: Karen, Randy, LaDon, Kent, and Scott Deatherage and Cleta Deatherage Mitchell.”

    My understanding is that Cleta Deatherage Mitchell is/was registered to vote in NC. So, I don’t know when she lived in GA. Does she live there now? I did find an older Cleta Mitchell in GA, but not the one we’ve come to know.

    I tried in vain to find who Cleta’s father was. It’s a mystery to me. But I did find something very interesting about a George Edward Deatherage. I haven’t a clue if Cleta knew him or knew of him. I certainly don’t know if they were kin. But, both were inclined to destructive political views. Rachel Maddow even mentions George Deatherage in a podcast found within this wiki in its external link:

    • ceebee_dee says:

      A person named Cleta Deatherage Mitchell is in the NC voter database as registering there in 2013, at the DMV.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          Yes, seems that way.

          Adding: Jack H Deatherage (1920 – 1975) was Cleta’s father. His father was named Roy and Jack had a brother named James. So, George Edward Deatherage does not appear to be part of Cleta’s nuclear family.

    • Harry Eagar says:

      George Deatherage was a big player in Roy Carlson/Arthur Derounian’s
      ‘Under Cover’ book about infiltrating American fascists in the ’30s. I seem to recall he was based in West Virginia or North Carolina, but it’s been a while since I read that 1943 best-seller.

      But — fun and true historical fact — Deatherage was a defendant in the big 1944 sedition trial that collapsed when the lawyers and defendants adopted a strategy of disruption. Fani Willis, please note.

      Maddow’s version is amusing but does not give much of the history of the native fascist movement; a gap she apparently will fill with a new book next month.

      Lotsa deja vu, but today’s movement backed by billionaires and savvy publicity pros is much scarier than the ’30s nazis with their blurry mimeographs and mailing lists in the low tens of thousands (Coughlin and one ot two others excepted).

      I began reading up on McCarthyism a couple of years ago, looking for parallels and links to trumpism — which are endless — and am grateful to see that when it comes to the pointy ends of the sticks, the minds are/have been pleasingly blunt.

  6. Rugger_9 says:

    OT, but likely to be a post soon:

    Meadows failed in his attempt to get to NDGA federal court. As it appears he might have the best rationale, the others trying this play like Kraken and Clark (and Inmate P01135809, who filed a notice to maybe go to federal court) can’t like their odds now.

    As for Cleta, she’s not slowed down a bit in her rhetoric or antics, but perhaps DC will have an indictment for her since she was running a nationwide scam, not just GA. It is odd that DA Willis did not charge her (yet).

  7. jdalessandro says:

    Didn’t know who she was, so I read the wiki article, and what a wild ride. The first husband divorced her, came out as gay and died of aids, while the second became a convicted felon. And then the interesting stuff starts. Family values anybody?
    I agree with Bmaz; its all too much for a local prosecutor, and it should have been left for the feds. Maybe a limited prosecution to protect the two election ladies, but this is flooding the zone with shit par excellence. But prosecutors can’t discipline themselves in these situations and they always overreach in their search for glory. Anyone else remember Maurice Nadjari?

    • Just Some Guy says:

      Not sure why her deceased first husband nor his death is relevant, at all. And the swipe about “family values” after describing Mitchell’s first husband as an AIDS victim is, shall we say, not very charitable.

      Cleta Mitchell may be a terrible, vile person but I don’t think that was warranted. Her conduct in her public life is what should be scrutinized here.

      • jdalessandro says:

        I take your point, but I was not trying to be unkind to the first husband. That was a horrible, tragic era, and the response, or lack thereof, by Reagan, was a forerunner of Trump saying the covid was going to disappear by magic. I just found the story bizarre, as the response to tragedy such as she sustained should not have been to join the side that reveled in that horror. It should have been an awakening, but the record after that is not a record of helping the vulnerable, or of helping her fellow man is it? That’s what I meant, too vaguely, about family values. It was a different time, but the deplorables have been with us always. Only the slogans have changed.

  8. Zinsky123 says:

    Welcome back, Ms. Wheeler! I hope you enjoyed some much-deserved rest and relaxation. I also wanted to compliment you on your recent spots on Michaelangelo Signorelle’s show on Sirius XM radio. You are fabulous! Your depth and breadth of knowledge is so impressive. Anyway, your observations regarding Cleta Mitchell not being indicted is very interesting. I wonder how much consideration of Georgia politics entered into indictment decisions, since Senators Loffler and Perdue and Lt. Governor Burt were also not indicted. Fani Wilson may have made a calculation that indicting politicians other than Trump himself, was a bridge too far. Thanks again for your great work – your absence is missed.

    • obsessed says:

      Two Requests:
      1. Are EW’s Sirius spots available anywhere else that might be accessible to peoples without Sirius?
      2. It would be terrific if there were a place in the sidebar of the home page of this site that announces any EW appearances in audio or video.

      • pH unbalanced says:

        In Marcy’s last appearance on the Nicole Sanders show, they announced that that would be a weekly feature. (Marcy already appears there fairly regularly, this will just standardize it.) They haven’t started yet, due to a combination of Marcy’s vacation and Nicole’s move out of Florida. But that’s one to keep an eye on.

        The Nicole Sanders Show is freely available (no paywall) and has its entire back catalog available. Not generally a ton of new information if you read emptywheel regularly, but always a good snapshot of what’s going on at the time.

        My discovery of emptywheel was from Marcy’s appearances on The Nicole Sanders Show and The BradCast (longtime election integrity podcast hosted by Brad Friedman). There’s a good interview on the BradCast this week with Marilyn Marks of the Coalition of Good Governance who is the person who taped Scott Hall confessing to that break in, which is how that crime was discovered in the first place.

        • pH unbalanced says:

          Apologies, the link is correct but Nicole’s last name is SANDLER. Can’t believe I mistyped that repeatedly.

        • Bev_22JUN2018_1453h says:

          To read a review of podcast:

          GA Voting System ‘Breach Continues’, Warns Woman Who Uncovered Coffee County Plot: ‘BradCast’ 9/6/2023

          But all of that — including the receipts — is only known publicly thanks to our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the small, critical non-profit, Coalition for Good Governance. As first aired on this program in May of last year, Marks received a phone call from an Atlanta bail bondsman named Scott Hall, who, essentially, confessed to the entire Coffee County scheme. That is how we even know that the breach happened at all, and why four people involved with it — one of whom is Powell, another of whom is Hall — were charged last month in the scheme that still endangers elections both across the entire state of Georgia, where the same systems will be used again next year, and in more than a dozen other states.

          Marks explains today how Hall originally “confessed” to the breach after calling out of the blue to bully her into turning over documents from her long-running civil lawsuit which is challenging the use of GA Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger’s unverifiable, wildly insecure touchscreen voting systems. Hall claimed he had actually “hacked” into her group’s legal documents.

          Marks warns that, despite the indictments, the threat posed by the breach has still not been fully investigated by either federal or state officials. Two and a half years since the breach, which she believes Raffensperger learned of almost immediately afterward and has been covering up, “the Secretary and State Election Board have not even begun an investigation of Coffee County,” Marks emphasized, telling me that “there are so many people that were involved in the Coffee County Breach that have not been held to any kind of accountability.”

          [Welcome to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Because your username is far too short and common (there are more than one Bev in the community), it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. Very sorry we didn’t point this out when you commented this July. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • mmmCoffee42 says:

      I think you mean Michaelangelo Signorile, on the the SiriusXM Progress channel 127

      [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. I assume that’s what you’ve done as your first known comment was published under username “Jm777.” /~Rayne]

  9. Dustbowl Observer says:

    Willis has said that she will call 150 witnesses for the prosecution. With 17 defendants, my back-of-napkin calculation sees 2-5 years of trial. Could it be that Willis is telling defendants that they will be tied up in trial for several years which will destroy them personally and financially, and that they better plead just to survive? Rather than an unintended mess, could that be the strategy?

    • bmaz says:

      If so, that is abusive, if not vindictive, prosecution. And I would not put that past Fulton County for one second, Like a children’s legal “Highlights Magazine”, maybe some day people will figure out the bogosity of what is going on in Fulton County.

    • timbozone says:

      Sadly, that appears to be the effect of some applications of the RICO laws at the state and Federal levels. Though this does not appear to be being abused in the Georgia RICO prosecution at hand, there are also potential property seizure abuses from RICO prosecutions. Fortunately, some of the property seizure abuses are less likely to be severe due to recent Supreme Court rulings/interpretation of Federal statutes, etc.

      • bmaz says:

        Oh, Fulton County is absolutely abusing RICO. And not just as to Trump and friends, which is ridiculous, but in numerous other cases too. Fulton County is arguably the worst abuser of RICO in the United States. Forfeiture cases are very much not the problem, it is the criminality.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Judge Jones, at 46, denies removal of Meadows’s case to federal court, because it would subvert the purpose of removal. Instead of protecting the federal govt from state interference, removal would protect alleged federal interference with the state’s “constitutionally protected” management of its elections.

    Assuming [federal] jurisdiction over this criminal prosecution would frustrate the purpose of federal officer removal when the state charges allege—not state interference with constitutionally protected federal activities, but—federal interference with constitutionally protected state actions. This result cannot stand in the face of federalism, “a concept which retains vitality and importance in our modern constitutional scheme,” and the Constitution’s express delegation of election activities to States.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Question about the judges. I’ve heard multiple news outlets say that Judge Jones would’ve been the trial judge for Meadows’ case regardless of whether not the trial was in a GA State Court or if it got removed to a Federal Court. Is this correct? That would mean Jones is going to be the trial judge for Meadows but not the other 18 co-defendants. Am I completely misunderstanding what’s going on here? Does that mean that anyone else who asks for a removal will end up in front of Judge Jones, and everyone else goes before the other trial judge?

      • bmaz says:

        Only if they get removed from Fulton Court. Meadows was the best situated to accomplish that, and even he did not succeed, so it is quite unlikely any of the Fulton County defendants will ever see Jones, unless, perhaps, Trump so moves.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Judge Jones would have had the case were it removed to the NDGA. Scott McAfee was assigned the trials held in Fulton Co., Superior Court.

  11. hollywood says:

    Motivation. What was the motivation for all these enablers and codefendants to go along with Trump’s scheme? Were the likes of Navarro and Meadows going to be in long term positions that presented ongoing opportunities for graft? That said, what wasn’t in it for Pence? He wouldn’t be able to look Mother in the face over the dinner table? They knew Trump lost but they were willing to go out on a limb to try to keep him in office. Why? Some compromising recordings and photos? What was Rudy thinking (if at all)?

    • Tetman Callis says:

      It is my understanding Pence believes he has been chosen by his god to someday be president of the United States. He wants to stay in the good graces of that god in so far as he is able.

      As for the others, I don’t want to stray too far into speculation, but I don’t have much more to go on than that. What were they thinking of, indeed? Power, wealth, and fame are mighty intoxicants. Don’t discount misogyny, racism, and religious superstition where they may apply. Stir them all together and you get a heady brew.

      Rudy may be a special case. His need for money — large amounts of money — has been publicly documented. Given how far back he and Trump go in NYC, and the roles Rudy has played there, there are likely closets full of skeletons ratting their chains.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        When God wants to know what Mike Pence is thinking, she tells Mother what Mike Pence is thinking.

    • Grain of Sand says:

      Yesterday, Navarro was sounding like a true believer, in the Eric Hoffer sense. No small number of Trumpers seem so, too.

      • timbozone says:

        At this point, Navarro has little choice in trying to get a pardon from Trump.

        I’m kind of curious what is going on with the government records civil action against Navarro—anyone know?

  12. bloopie2 says:

    There are a number of references to Meadows in the indictment, but on a quick reading, only one of his alleged “overt acts” is called out separately as a particular statutory violation. Here:

    On or about the 2nd day of January 2021, DONALD JOHN TRUMP and MARK RANDALL MEADOWS committed the felony offense of SOLICITATION OF VIOLATION OF OATH BY PUBLIC OFFICER, in violation of O.C.G.A. §§ 16-4-7 16-10-1, in Fulton County, Georgia, by unlawfully soliciting, requesting, and importuning Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, public officer, to engage in conduct constituting the felony offense of Violation of Oath by Public Officer, O.C.G.A. 16-10-1, by unlawfully altering, unlawfully adjusting, and otherwise unlawfully influencing the certified returns for presidential electors for the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Georgia, in willful and intentional violation of the terms of the oath of said person as prescribed by law, with intent that said person engage in said conduct. This was an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.

    Speculation: As to Meadows, could this have been charged separately in Georgia, not as part of a RICO case? If it were a separate case, though, I wonder how many of the other overt acts would a prosecutor want/need to bring in as evidence, to make a strong case? If a lot, maybe you’re better off going with the cheap answer to the question “Who do I sue?”, to wit, “Sue everyone and let them get out.”

  13. Drew in Bronx says:

    I thought Cleta Mitchell was from Oklahoma, not Georgia and she worked in DC for most of her later career.

    • P J Evans says:

      “Cleta B. Deatherage Mitchell is an American lawyer, politician, and conservative activist. Elected in 1976, Mitchell served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives until 1984, representing District 44 as a member of the Democratic Party. In 1996, she registered as a Republican.” – Wikipedia

    • Konny_2022 says:

      The Republican National Lawyers Association in a Cleta Mitchell bio:
      “She is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, the State of Oklahoma, the Supreme Court of the United States and federal district and appellate courts.”

      However, this bio seems outdated. It begins with “Cleta Mitchell is a partner in Foley’s Washington, D.C. office and a member of the firm’s Public Affairs Practice.” The Foley’s pages don’t list her, at least I couldn’t find her on their pages.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yep. Formally a resignation, but that’s corporate apologist speak for tossed out on her ass from a top 50 law firm.

          Firms and businesses normally allow a reasonable waiting period between a partner or senior executive’s major fuck up and their departure, to pretend the two aren’t related. That’s to promote the employer’s interests. Here, it was head snapping fast.

          • bmaz says:

            Lol, no lawyer, especially a partner, leaves “effective immediately” unless they were terminated. That is a “box up your crap and be out by noon” thing.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Or escorted out the door, leave your phone, computer, id, and key card, don’t stop by your office, we’ll mail whatever’s yours to you, after we check it. That’s a common goodbye in corporate America.

      • JVOJVOJVO says:

        Cleta started that group when she joined FL. Many partners howled and objected, some left bc of it. She was tossed out of the firm on her arse like Howard Shipley.

  14. JVOJVOJVO says:

    There’s a treasure trove of who’s who in Foley and Lardner’s conflict check system about Cleta’s “clients,” potential clients, adverse parties, and interested others. FWIW

  15. flounder says:

    My theory is Mitchell indictment breaks open a connection to Ronna not-Romney or some shit where DOJ gets into indicting the Republican Party and that starts a lot of shit.

  16. Josiah Daniel says:

    wait – I thought Cleta Mitchell openly identified as an Oklahoman, not a Georgian. Are you sure about that?

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