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George Mitchell Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here is a look at the life of George Mitchell, former US senator (D-Maine).


Birth date: August 20, 1933

Birth place: Waterville, Maine

Birth name: George John Mitchell

Father: George Mitchell, a janitor

Mother: Mary (Saad) Mitchell

Marriages: Heather MacLachlan (1994-present); Sally L. Heath (1959-1987, divorced)

Children: with Heather MacLachlan: Andrew and Claire; with Sally L. Heath: Andrea

Education: Bowdoin College, B.A., 1954; Georgetown University, L.L.B, 1960

Military Service: US Army Counterintelligence Corps, 1954-1956

Other Facts

Has been a board member of several major companies, including The Walt Disney Company, Xerox and FedEx.

His mother immigrated to the United States from Lebanon when she was 18.


1960-1962 – Trial lawyer in the US Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, in Washington.

1962-1965Executive assistant to Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine.

1965-1977 – Private practice lawyer in Portland, Maine.

1974 – Runs unsuccessfully for governor of Maine.

1977-1979 US Attorney for the District of Maine – appointed by President Jimmy Carter.

1979-1980 US District Court Judge for the District of Maine.

May 19, 1980 – Is sworn in as a US Senator, having been appointed to complete the term left vacant by Muskie, who became secretary of state.

1982 Runs for and wins a US Senate seat in Maine.

1988 Is reelected with 81% of the vote. He does not run in 1994.

1989-1994 – Senate Majority Leader.

1989-1995 – Serves as co-chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee with Tom Daschle of South Dakota (1989-99) and Harry Reid of Nevada (1995-99).

1994 – Declines an offer from President Bill Clinton to be nominated for a seat on the US Supreme Court.

1995 President Clinton appoints Mitchell as special adviser and US special envoy for Northern Ireland.

1995 – The Mitchell Scholarship Program is named in his honor. Scholars are US citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 who spend a year studying in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The first class commences in 2000.

1995-2003 – Special counsel at Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand.

1996-2000 Independent Chairman of the Northern Ireland Peace Talks.

1998 – Receives an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his leadership role in negotiations between Northern Ireland and Ireland that resulted in the Good Friday Peace Agreement.

1999 – Establishes the George Mitchell Institute to lend support to the Mitchell Scholarship Program.

March 17, 1999 Is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

April 1999 Is awarded the UNESCO Peace Prize.

2000 and 2001 – Chairman of an International Fact-Finding Committee on Violence in the Middle East.

November 27, 2002 – Is appointed vice chairman of the new independent commission investigating the September 11 terrorist attacks. Mitchell resigns a month later saying the workload would be too much and citing potential conflicts of interest with his law firm.

2005-2009 – Chairman of the global board of international law firm DLA Piper. Remains a consultant.

March 30, 2006 Is appointed by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to investigate alleged steroid use by Major League Baseball players.

December 13, 2007 The Mitchell Report on steroids is released.

January 22, 2009-May 19, 2011 Special envoy to the Middle East, named by President Barack Obama.

August 1, 2012 The NCAA selects Mitchell as the independent athletics integrity monitor at Penn State, effective immediately for a five-year appointment.

June 2014 – Mitchell joins Teneo, a global consulting firm, as a senior adviser.

May 2015 – His memoir, “The Negotiator: Reflections on an American Life,” is published.

August 9, 2019 – Hundreds of pages of court documents are unsealed in a New York federal court alleging new details of sexual abuse claims against multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein and several of his associates. The documents were produced as a result of a lawsuit Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed against Ghislaine Maxwell. They include allegations by Giuffre that she was instructed by Maxwell to have sex with Mitchell, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and others. Mitchell calls the claim false, adding: “I have never met, spoken with or had any contact with Ms. Giuffre.”

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