Mitchell, George John

Mitchell, George John,

1933–, U.S. public official, b. Waterville, Maine. An attorney in private and government practice in the 1960s and 1970s, he was a protege of Senator Edmund MuskieMuskie, Edmund Sixtus,
1914–96, U.S. Senator (1959–80), b. Rumford, Maine. A lawyer, he sat (1947–51) in the Maine legislature after serving in the navy in World War II.
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. Generally considered a liberal Democrat, he was a federal district judge (1979–80) when he was appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Muskie in 1980. In 1984 he became chairman of the Senatorial Campaign Committee.

In 1988, Mitchell succeeded Robert ByrdByrd, Robert Carlyle,
1917–2010, U.S. senator from West Virginia (1959–2010), b. North Wilkesboro, N.C., as Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr. A Democrat, he served (1947–52) in the West Virginia legislature and (1953–59) in the U.S.
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 as Democratic (majority) leader in the Senate and in that position opposed President Bush's capital gains tax cut in 1989 and Bush's policies in regard to Tiananmen SquareTiananmen Square,
large public square in Beijing, China, on the southern edge of the Inner or Tatar City. The square, named for its Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen), contains the monument to the heroes of the revolution, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of
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 and the Persian Gulf WarPersian Gulf Wars,
two conflicts involving Iraq and U.S.-led coalitions in the late 20th and early 21st cent.

The First Persian Gulf War, also known as the Gulf War, Jan.–Feb.
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. Mitchell served on the Senate committee investigating the Iran-contra affairIran-contra affair,
in U.S. history, secret arrangement in the 1980s to provide funds to the Nicaraguan contra rebels from profits gained by selling arms to Iran. The Iran-contra affair was the product of two separate initiatives during the administration of President Ronald
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 and with his colleague from Maine, Republican William Cohen, wrote Men of Zeal, attacking Oliver NorthNorth, Oliver Laurence,
1943–, American military officer, b. San Antonio, Tex. Raised in Philmont, N.Y., he entered the U.S. Marines, graduated from Annapolis (1968), served in the Vietnam War, and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.
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 and others for their roles in the scandal. In 1994, Mitchell declined a nomination to the Supreme Court to aid the Clinton administration in its unsuccessful fight to overhaul the American health care system.

He retired from the Senate in 1995 and became the U.S. adviser to peace negotiations in Northern Ireland, which are discussed in his book Making Peace (1999). He was credited with the major role in bringing about the 1998 and 1999 accords there (see Ireland, NorthernIreland, Northern,
division of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2011 pop. 1,810,863), 5,462 sq mi (14,147 sq km), NE Ireland. Made up of six of the nine counties of the historic province of Ulster in NE Ireland, it is frequently called Ulster.
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). In 1998–99, he headed a U.S. investigation into financial scandals connected with the siting of the Olympic games. Mitchell also headed (2000–2001) a fact-finding committee on the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli violence in 2000; apportioning blame to both sides, it called for an unconditional halt to the violence. He later served (2009–11) as President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East. In 2005–7 he led a review of performance-enhancing drug use in major league baseball; the final report implicated 89 current and former players and recommended changes in how the leagues test for drug use but was also criticized for being incomplete.

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