Not a single Republican running for office this November should be able to escape the revelations of the House Jan. 6 committee’s investigation. As this digital ad makes clear, Republican witnesses during Monday’s hearing should have obliterated whatever doubt was left about the 2020 election results:
There was never any real evidence behind the claim that Donald Trump won in 2020. Instead, there were crackpot conspiracy claims from Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell and Trump adviser Peter Navarro. Giuliani had his legal license suspended because he brought election claims in court without a scintilla of evidence. Powell suffered sanctions for her frivolous lawsuits as well. Navarro was recently charged with contempt of Congress. Even if it wasn’t obvious then, the “big lie” was cooked up by Trump and cranks peddling baseless claims, each of which had been shot down.
Yet, as The Post reports, “District by district, state by state, voters in places that cast ballots through the end of May have chosen at least 108 candidates for statewide office or Congress who have repeated Trump’s lies.”
That means a lot of Republican candidates will have to face some uncomfortable questions. Let’s start with the flock of Senate candidates spouting the “big lie.” They include Blake Masters in Arizona, Herschel Walker in Georgia, Adam Laxalt in Nevada and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania. The media and Democratic opponents should demand answers to questions such as:
- Do you regret peddling a lie about elections that has since been entirely debunked?
- If no, why do you support a lie that every court and election audit has rejected and that almost everyone in the Trump White House acknowledged was nonsense?
- If you believed the loony claims advanced by a few Trump officials, how are voters supposed to trust you with important decisions?
- Are you a patsy for conspiracy theories? Or are you knowingly lying to the public?
These sorts of questions are especially important in races for state-level positions that oversee elections. The nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice recently reported that in Michigan, the “disqualification of multiple candidates for governor over forged petition signatures increases the likelihood that one of the election deniers remaining in the race advances to the general election.”
In Nevada, a batch of Republican candidates for secretary of state are still peddling the “big lie.” The Brennan Center reviews a couple of these figures:
Jesse Haw (R) said Democrats changed voting rules to “manipulate the system.” Jim Marchant (R) claims his own 2020 campaign was a “victim of fraud” and has pushed local election officials to move to hand-counted paper ballots. Richard Scotti (R) has claimed Dominion voting machines change results and supports moving to paper ballots and conducting partisan reviews like the discredited one conducted in Maricopa County, Arizona.
Each of these candidates should be asked why they believe disproven claims. And if they truly believe them, how can such gullible people hold positions of public trust?
The thorough debunking of the “big lie" might also portend trouble for incumbent Sen. Mike Lee, who tried to help Trump remain in power well after all legal claims were dismissed. In fact, just last week, in response to a question from a caller during an interview with C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” the Utah Republican gave a “tacit endorsement,” as the Salt Lake Tribune put it, of the conspiratorial film “2000 Mules” about the 2020 election by Trumpist filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza. “I did see the movie ‘2000 Mules,’ and that movie does raise significant questions about what might have happened in that election,” Lee said. “I think those are questions that need to be answered, and I would love to get the president’s response to it and an explanation for why certain things happened.”
Lee’s opponents should ask him:
- Don’t you feel a little silly pushing this nonsense now?
- Were you really duped by election fraud claims, or did you figure out, like Barr and every other sober member of the Trump team, that there was “no there there”?
- With no evidence of fraud, were you trying to overturn the will of the voters?
On one level, this is about the GOP’s war on democracy and its refusal to accept defeat and support the peaceful transfer of power. But more fundamentally, it is about these Republicans’ willingness to lie — or be taken in by lies — if it suits their career ambitions. Democrats should mince no words: Such people should not hold public office.