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One phone call with Donald Trump destroyed this Republican lawyer's career

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Last month, veteran political attorney Cleta Mitchell was forced to resign as a partner at the prominent Washington-based firm Foley & Lardner after it became clear she had secretly aided former President Trump's efforts to overturn the election results, in violation of the firm's policy.

It's been a rough few months for Mitchell: The firebrand conservative activist and political lawyer was listed as an officer on a nonprofit run by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, which is now part of a federal fraud investigation. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, a friend and client of Mitchell's, has attracted legal scrutiny for allegedly misusing political contributions. Shortly after Mitchell's departure from Foley & Lardner, the firm appears to have taken steps to resolve newly-discovered issues with its own super PAC.

Cleta Mitchell was born Cleta Deatherage in 1950, in Oklahoma, where she served in the state legislature from 1976 to 1984 — as a Democrat focused on women's rights, believe it or not. In the 1990s, she changed her party affiliation to independent after the federal government investigated and convicted her husband, Dale Mitchell, of bank fraud, fining him $1.3 million in restitution and sentencing to five years' probation. Though the judge in the case suggested that Dale had lucked out by avoiding prison time, the episode convinced Cleta Mitchell that "overreaching government regulation is one of the great scandals of our times," and she soon became a registered Republican.

Since then, Mitchell has been one of the most influential, if largely invisible, figures in conservative politics, serving as legal counsel for both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee, as well as the National Rifle Association. Individual clients have included numerous Republican elected officials and candidates, including Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Jim DeMint of South Carolina, whose GOP networking firm hired Mark Meadows a week after he left the Trump White House. Mitchell has also........

© Salon

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