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Congressman who left GOP over Trump’s election fraud claims released a posthumous message warning that partisanship is ‘destroying our society’

Summary List PlacementCNN on Sunday aired a posthumous interview with former congressman Paul Mitchell, who previously walked away from the GOP after rejecting Trump's claims of election fraud. He died from renal cancer at age 64 on August 15. Mitchell taped the interview in July and specifically asked CNN's Jake Tapper that it not be aired until after his death. From his hospice bed, Mitchell called for "real bipartisanship" in the US, saying it was something he missed in today's political process, and that it was a matter that he wished to speak with President Joe Biden and his administration...

Rep Paul Mitchell

Summary List Placement

CNN on Sunday aired a posthumous interview with former congressman Paul Mitchell, who previously walked away from the GOP after rejecting Trump’s claims of election fraud. He died from renal cancer at age 64 on August 15.

Mitchell taped the interview in July and specifically asked CNN’s Jake Tapper that it not be aired until after his death. From his hospice bed, Mitchell called for “real bipartisanship” in the US, saying it was something he missed in today’s political process, and that it was a matter that he wished to speak with President Joe Biden and his administration about.

“Our society is struggling, and it’s struggling because people can’t accept that they believe in different things and look for what they agree on, and decide whether someone is a good person or not,” he told Tapper.

He brought forward the example of disagreement over COVID-19 vaccines. “It’s ‘I won’t talk to you.’ It’s breaking up families,” he said.

“For me, it’s innate to just say: where can we agree? There’s value in people you don’t agree with. It’s easy to find people you agree with,” he said. “There’s value in people that we may disagree with strongly, but that doesn’t inherently make them a bad person.”

“Learn to understand people and judge less. Love more, and let’s have less hatred. It’s destroying our society,” said Mitchell, who served two terms in Congress and retired in 2020.

Before his retirement, Mitchell announced that he was walking away from the GOP to become an independent, expressing outrage at the Trump administration’s baseless claims of election fraud. 

“This party has to stand up for democracy first — for our Constitution first — and not political considerations,” he told CNN in December. “Not to protect a candidate. Not simply for raw political power, and that’s what I feel is going on, and I’ve had enough.”

“If Republican leaders collectively sit back and tolerate unfounded conspiracy theories and ‘stop the steal’ rallies without speaking out for our electoral process, which the Department of Homeland Security said was ‘the most secure in American history,’ our nation will be damaged,” he added.

Reflecting on his battle with cancer, Mitchell said he tried his best to buy time to be with his wife and six children, the youngest of whom is a son that his family adopted from Russia.

Tapper appeared to get emotional at one point in the interview, saying it was an honor to have known Mitchell through their interviews and as friends.

Mitchell, looking visibly thinner than when he was in Congress and with a tube running under his nose, thanked him.

“My mom always taught us to make a difference. Don’t just fill up space. Make a difference. This is why I did what I did in my career. I don’t know if I can make much of a difference now except to my family,” he said.

“I want them to understand that you can die with honor. You can die with peace.”

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