It was previous midnight on January 7 when the US House of Representatives started its debate on whether or not to just accept Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes.
Earlier on Wednesday, allegations of unlawful and fraudulent voting in Pennsylvania and different swing states the place President Trump misplaced led his supporters to storm the Capitol. The mob got here after a Trump rally, the place the president recited quite a few falsehoods that lengthy have been debunked.
It was a surprising spectacle. More than a dozen Republican congressmen rose and condemned the violence. Then, as if the reason for the rampage lay elsewhere, they opposed certifying Pennsylvania’s votes by reciting most of the identical allegations that Trump uttered that day—atop innuendo that Democrats had extensively cheated.
“To sum it up, Pennsylvania officials illegally did three things,” mentioned Rep. Ted Budd, R-NC. “One, they radically expanded vote by mail for virtually any reason. Two, they removed restrictions when a ballot could be sent in. And three, they removed signature verification on those very ballots.”
Budd didn’t point out that Pennsylvania’s Republican majority legislature had authorised the election reforms that laid the bottom rules for 2020’s election. Nor did he word that the Republican National Committee had pushed Pennsylvania’s Republicans to vote with absentee ballots—and a whole bunch of hundreds did.
Instead, Budd and different Republicans mentioned that the election was illegitimate as a result of Democratic officers—similar to Pennsylvania’s secretary of state-issued rules to make it simpler for voters and election officers to manage in a pandemic. They mentioned the Constitution had been violated as a result of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had agreed with these steps. Only state legislatures may set election rules, they mentioned, making a novel argument that ignored many years of election legislation and court docket rulings.
“I rise in support of this objection and to give voice to the 249,386 men and women of Ohio’s 6th Congressional District,” mentioned Rep. Bill Johnson, R-OH, “who have had their voices silenced by the rogue political actors in Pennsylvania, who unilaterally and unconstitutionally altered voting methods to benefit the Democratic candidate for president.”
“Secretaries of state and state supreme courts cannot simply ignore the rules governing elections set forth in the [U.S.] Constitution,” he fumed. “They cannot choose to usurp their state legislatures to achieve a partisan end, Constitution be damned.”
These representatives had been joined by others who mentioned that Trump’s mob was “shameful,” “unacceptable” and “un-American.” Yet they went on to recite most of the identical claims that Trump made earlier than his mob acted. These claims crammed the 60-plus lawsuits introduced by Trump and his allies because the election—claims federal and state judges have overwhelmingly rejected as baseless and missing in proof.
Had these Republicans realized something from the rampage? When the talk ended properly previous midnight, 138 Republicans voted to reject Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes. Their dissents didn’t cease the chamber from accepting the state’s Electoral College votes. Nor did it stop a joint session of Congress later that morning from certifying Joe Biden and Kamala Harris because the 2020 election’s winners.
Yet the 138 votes, and the slippery arguments or misrepresentations that preceded them, are a darkish signal of the instances. When one-quarter of House members both lack ample information of how elections are run or cling to specious arguments to overturn outcomes, the undercurrents driving Trump’s mob are nonetheless current. Looking forward, voting rights advocates are beginning to see these sentiments resurface as a brand new wave of anti-voting laws in red-run state legislatures.
“We’re deeply concerned the post-election lawsuits are now morphing into state-driven voter suppression schemes,” mentioned Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, talking throughout a press briefing throughout Georgia’s runoffs on January 5. “These lawsuits failed universally… Now we see lawmakers seeking to exploit this moment [and] institute new restrictions on measures such as [repealing] no-excuse absentee voting.”
Clarke is partly referring to a proposal by Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to reel in absentee voting. The 2020 election had overwhelmed native election officers, he has mentioned, including that future voting choices wanted to be streamlined. Record numbers of Georgians voted by mailed-out ballots in 2020, which was a part of the wave that elected two Democratic U.S. senators and delivered a stunning Biden-Harris victory.
Raffensperger had been attacked by Trump as a RINO—Republican In Name Only—and pressured by Trump on January 2 to change the licensed vote rely so Trump would emerge because the victor. On Thursday, the Trump marketing campaign withdrew its fits in Georgia on the eve of scheduled court docket hearings. Raffensperger issued an in depth press launch that famous Trump folded simply earlier than his authorized workforce needed to current proof of unlawful voting and rigged elections.
“On the eve of getting the day in court they supposedly were begging for, President Trump and [Georgia Republican Party] Chairman David Shafer’s legal team folded Thursday and voluntarily dismissed their election contests against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger rather than submit their evidence to a court and to cross-examination,” the secretary’s launch started.
“However, even in capitulation, they continue to spread disinformation,” it mentioned. “The President’s legal team falsely characterizes the dismissal of their lawsuits as ‘due to an out of court settlement agreement.’ However, correspondence sent to Trump’s legal team prior to the dismissals makes perfectly clear that there is no settlement agreement. The Trump legal [team] voluntarily dismissed their lawsuits rather than presenting their evidence in court in a trial scheduled for tomorrow in front of Cobb County Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs.”
The assertion mentioned that the “withdrawals came after Secretary Raffensperger sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday containing point-by-point refutation of the false claims made by the President and his allies. Late last night, Congress accepted Georgia’s slate of electors without objection, as no Senator joined in [Republican] Congressman Jody Hice’s objection to Georgia’s electors.”
Few Republicans in all probability learn Raffensperger’s memo as they sought shelter from Trump’s mob. However, within the different chamber, Georgia’s Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who misplaced to Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock a day earlier than, mentioned she may not oppose her state’s certification of the presidential vote. The storming of the Capitol had modified her thoughts. The identical couldn’t be mentioned of nearly one-third of the House.
*This article was produced by Voting Booth, a challenge of the Independent Media Institute.