A Republican lawyer who advised Donald Trump in his campaign to overturn the 2020 election results is now playing a central role in coordinating the Republican effort to toughen voting laws across the country.
The moves come as Trump himself signaled his support for new GOP-driven legislation in Georgia, which critics have criticized as a major blow to the voting rights of communities of color, especially black voters. Joe Biden called Georgia’s laws “Jim Crow in the 21st century” and “an atrocity.”
But Trump, whose grip on the Republican party remains strong, welcomed the events in Georgia. “Congratulations to Georgia and the Georgia state legislature for changing their rules and regulations for voters,” Trump said in a statement via his Pac, Save America, which repeated his baseless claim that fraud was a factor in his electoral defeat to Biden. “They learned from the 2020 presidential election parody, which can never be allowed to happen again. Too bad these changes could not have been made earlier! “
Trump remains a dominant force among the party’s Republican base and his support for the clampdown on voting rights, and the involvement of people close to him, reveal the party’s likely future direction as it grapples with diversifying demographic trends. in the United States disagree. with its mostly white support.
Cleta Mitchell, a longtime Republican attorney and conservative advocate, was among Trump’s advisers in a January phone call in which Trump asked Georgia election officials to “find” enough votes to declare him, and not Biden, the winner of the battlefield status. .
Now Mitchell has taken the helm of two separate efforts to push for stricter state voting laws and to fight Democratic efforts to expand access to the ballot at the federal level. He is also advising state legislators in the development of voting restriction proposals. And he’s in regular contact with Trump.
“People are really interested in participating and we have to harness all this energy,” Mitchell said in an interview with the Associated Press. “There are many groups that have projects on electoral integrity that have never done it before.”
Trump’s false claims of fraud during and after the 2020 election have fueled a wave of new voting restrictions.
This year, mostly Republican lawmakers proposed more than 250 voting restrictions, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
On Thursday, the Republican Governor of Georgia signed into law a law requiring voters to present identification to vote by mail, giving the Republican Party-controlled state legislature new powers over local election boards and outlaws who provide food or water to people waiting in line to vote.
In response, Democrats have stepped up momentum for a massive federal electoral reform bill. That proposal, known as HR1, would effectively neutralize statewide voter identification laws, allow anyone to vote by mail if they wanted, and automatically register citizens to vote. Republicans see that as a usurpation of state control over the elections and say it is designed to give Democrats an advantage.
“The left is trying to dismantle 100 years of advances in the electoral administration,” Mitchell said, expressing bewilderment over accusations by Democrats that Republicans are trying to suppress votes. “We are watching two different movies right now.”
Mitchell’s most public involvement in the voting wars came when he participated in Trump’s call to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, on January 2. During that call, Mitchell insisted that he had evidence of voter fraud, but officials in the secretary of state’s office told him that his information was incorrect.
Mitchell has two new roles in an emerging conservative voting operation. She is running a $ 10 million initiative in the limited government group FreedomWorks to push for new voting restrictions and help train conservatives to get involved in the nuts and bolts of local elections.
She is also a senior legal researcher at the Conservative Partnership Institute, an organization led by former Republican Senator Jim DeMint. She says she will use that role to “coordinate” conservative voting positions, particularly in opposition to HR 1.
Mitchell, 70, has ties to other influential players in the Conservative movement and serves as an outside adviser to the American Legislative Exchange Committee, a conservative group that provides model legislation to state legislators and organized a call with state legislators and Ted. Cruz, the senator from Texas. , by opposing HR 1.
Mitchell told the Associated Press that he has been speaking regularly with Republican state lawmakers about the need for new election laws. He didn’t want to identify who he’s talking to, but said it’s been a long-time passion.
Similarly, he did not detail his conversations with Trump or say if they were about the new voting fights. “I’m in touch with the president quite often,” he said of Trump.
Repeat audits have shown no significant problems with the 2020 election. Trump and his supporters lost more than 50 court cases that challenged their results.