“Unethical and Anti-Democratic”: GOP Lawmakers & Trump Continue Push to Overturn Election Results

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At a campaign rally for the two critical Senate runoff races in Georgia, President Trump used much of the time to focus on himself and again dispute the outcome of November’s presidential election. In a rambling speech, Trump cited the same conspiracy theories he used to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state in a recorded telephone call to “find” him enough votes to overturn the state’s certified election results. Democrats say Trump could be prosecuted for illegally trying to pressure Georgia officials to commit voter fraud, while some Republicans are defending the call. “It is most unfortunate that there are members of Congress in both the House and Senate that are planning to … do grandstanding, frankly, to continue this kind of false and baseless claim that there was something wrong with the 2020 election,” says Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She says that for lawmakers to “perpetuate this mythology about irregularities in our election is incredibly un-American.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: At a campaign rally Monday night in Georgia for the two critical Senate runoff elections taking place today, President Trump addressed thousands of unmasked supporters and used much of the time to focus on himself and again dispute the outcome of November’s presidential election.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I want to thank you very much. Hello, Georgia. By the way, there’s no way we lost Georgia. There’s no way. It’s a rigged — that was a rigged election. But we’re still fighting it, and you’ll see what’s going to happen.

AMY GOODMAN: In a rambling speech, Trump cited the same conspiracy theories he used to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state in a recorded telephone call over the weekend to, quote, “find” him enough votes to overturn the state’s certified election results. On Monday, Georgia’s top election official, Republican Gabriel Sterling, held a news conference to debunk Trump’s election fraud claims point by point.

GABRIEL STERLING: Nothing in our investigations of any of these data claims that shows nearly enough ballots to change the outcome. And the secretary and I at this podium have said since November 3rd there is illegal voting in every single election in the history of mankind, because there are human beings involved in the process. It’s going to happen. It’s a question of limiting it and putting as many safeguards as you can in place to make sure it doesn’t happen. All right. Oh yeah, we had part of the hand tally be discussed in relation to the potential double scanning. Let’s just go to the other ridiculous claims that Dominion voting machines are somehow using fractional voting or flipping votes. Again, by doing the hand tally, it shows none of that is true. Not a wit. … This is all easily provably false. Yet the president persists.

AMY GOODMAN: Democrats say Trump could be prosecuted, and even impeached, for illegally trying to pressure Georgia officials to commit voter fraud, while House Republicans are rushing to Trump’s defense. On Monday, Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler promised to join a Republican effort to contest the Electoral College result during a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. She was speaking alongside President Trump at a rally he came down to to support her and Georgia’s other senator, David Perdue. Perdue also backs the effort, but he can’t vote since his Senate term ended on Sunday. They’re both facing runoffs today.

Newly elected Georgia congressmember and QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene also said the election, quote, “should be decertified.” But when CNN asked her if doing so would impact her own victory since she was on the same ballot, Greene said, quote, “We’re just talking about the president’s race.”

For more, we’re joined in Washington, D.C., by Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Kristen Clarke, welcome back to Democracy Now! These are extremely dire times, to say the least. Can you talk about the significance of what over a dozen senators and over 140 congressmembers — these are all Republicans — are going to do tomorrow as they challenge the certification of the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris?

KRISTEN CLARKE: Well, thank you for having me, and Happy New Year.

And, you know, it’s important to remember that the November 2020 election is now nine weeks behind us. And in the ensuing nine weeks, we have counted ballots. We have recounted ballots. We have lived through lawsuits in a number of states, particularly in places that are home to large numbers of Black voters. Cities like Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit and others were very much the focal point of a lot of these failed lawsuits that we endured. We saw results certified. The Electoral College has met.

And the meeting that is happening between both chambers of Congress tomorrow is the final step in that long road. It’s a ministerial meeting in which both chambers are there to meet and carry out one simple task. And that’s certifying the work that the Electoral College has done — that is, certifying the electoral results — and, you know, very much marks the moment where we should be putting this election behind us. It is most unfortunate that there are members of Congress in both the House and Senate that are planning to use tomorrow to kind of orchestrate and do grandstanding, frankly, to continue this kind of false and baseless claim that there was something wrong with the 2020 election.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that we are still living through a pandemic that has upended life in our country, and despite that, over 150 million Americans were able to overcome tremendous obstacles and barriers and have their voices heard. For election officials to ignore that grim reality and to continue this charade, this sham, and to perpetuate this mythology about irregularities in our election is incredibly un-American.

I deem kind of what we have lived through over the past nine weeks really to be about political showmanship. These are elected officials and state attorneys general who almost seem to be trying to outperform one another with their antics. We have seen lawsuits that have been frivolous, that have been packed with conspiracy-laden theory and baseless allegations, lawsuits that had errors in the documents. And, you know, it’s unfortunate that they’ve clogged up the court system. And at this stage, we really need members of Congress, many of whom just swore an oath, you know, many new members of Congress who’ve sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and to serve the public dutifully, to do their job and to not use tomorrow’s historic meeting for the kind of political grandstanding that we’ve been seeing over the last several weeks.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But, Kristen Clarke, the extraordinary comments that President Trump made in that phone call over the weekend, however, he — no matter how delusional and how lacking in facts his statements are, they do serve to, in essence, consolidate his base of support, don’t they? It’s almost the theory that if you keep repeating a lie often enough, no matter how big it is, there will be a portion of people who will believe it because it’s been repeated so often. I’m wondering your sense of the impact of this conversation on, really, the foundations of our democracy.

KRISTEN CLARKE: Well, I’m alarmed by the call, as I imagine many Americans are. I think there is a question about whether some of the conduct in that call is potentially criminal. There are provisions under both Georgia state law and our federal election law which prohibit this kind of attempt to interfere with our election. There’s a Georgia criminal solicitation law that would prohibit the kind of soliciting a state official to engage in unlawful conduct in the way that that call seemed to transpire. There’s another provision in our federal election law, 52 U.S.C. 20511, which would prohibit and make unlawful the kind of interference with the way that a federal election is carried out, in the way that that call, again, seemed to transpire. So there’s the question of whether that call is potentially criminal.

It is most certainly unethical, and it’s absolutely anti-democratic. We do not want to live in a democracy where officials at the executive level are putting their thumb on the scale and using their unique position of power and authority to persuade those who are tasked with running our elections to rig the outcome, to rewrite the will of voters, to cancel out the voices of some while amplifying and inflating the impact of other voices. This is not the kind of conduct that we want to tolerate in our democracy today.

AMY GOODMAN: So, we’re talking about Georgia.

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