The same day House Republicans ousted a member of their leadership for saying President Donald Trump lost the election and numerous lawmakers questioned the result, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) insisted they’d all moved on.
“I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election,” McCarthy said outside the White House after he and other congressional leaders met with President Joe Biden. “I think that is all over with. We’re sitting here with the president today.”
The election was months ago, and Biden unequivocally won. But Trump, aided by numerous members of the GOP, continues to insist without evidence that there was mass fraud to benefit Biden and the election was stolen. State-level Republicans are pushing voting restrictions based on that premise. Congressional Republicans are fighting voting rights reform because of it. Republicans like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who pushed back with the truth that Trump simply lost, faced consequences over it ― she was recalled from her post as GOP conference chair on Wednesday morning.
And Republican members continued to question the election to HuffPost on the same day.
“A lot of people question it, to be frank with you,” said Freedom Caucus chair Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.). “I think we have some election integrity issues that we need to resolve.”
Fellow Freedom Caucus member Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) agreed. “I think there were irregularities in the conduct of the election,” he said. “There was a fairly widespread problem of executive branch agencies in various states altering rules that were established by the state legislatures according to the Constitution.”
Bishop added that there “could have been misconduct” but acknowledged it’s hard to prove.
Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) said Biden was legitimately elected but that “we need to make sure that we have unquestioned elections moving forward.”
Some Republicans would rather not get into it. ”I’m going to stay focused on the future, not the past, at this point,” Rep. Vern Buchanan (Fla.) said when asked if he agreed with recent statements by Cheney.
“At what point are you going to stop asking that question?” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said.
Despite ample evidence to the contrary, McCarthy and other Republican leaders say that their party isn’t questioning the election.
It’s understandable that Republican leaders would want to distance themselves from questioning the 2020 election. The claim that it was stolen from Trump led his supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, the day most House Republicans ― McCarthy included ― voted to throw out election results.
Polls have repeatedly shown this year that majorities of Republican voters believe the election was stolen.
Trump himself called it stolen as recently as Monday, claiming that a “major Michigan Election Fraud case … filed a pleading claiming votes were intentionally switched from President Trump to Joe Biden.”
“The number of votes is MASSIVE and determinative,” Trump wrote. “This will prove true in numerous other states. All Republicans must UNIFY and not let this happen.”
This was just a continuation of more than a dozen statements Trump has made since leaving office claiming the election was stolen. “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!” he said in an email to supporters last week.
In Arizona, state legislative Republicans are currently conducting an audit of the 2020 vote in Maricopa County where they are placing every ballot under UV light and checking them for “bamboo fibers” in order to confirm a conspiracy theory put forward by a treasure hunter that some ballots were shipped in from East Asia, among other absurdities. The county and state already subjected the vote to multiple audits and forensic reviews and found that the election was conducted appropriately with no corruption.
And Republican-run states across the country, including Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Montana and Texas, are enacting laws making it harder to vote solely in response to Trump’s lies about the election.
But it isn’t just the election result that Republicans continue to deny. At a hearing about the Jan. 6 attack on Wednesday, Republicans denied that the violent riot directed by Trump that played out on television took place at all.
“There was no insurrection,” Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) said, likening the insurrectionists who broke into the Capitol and clashed with police to tourists. “To call it an insurrection is a bold-faced lie.”
“It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others,” said Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), who is primarying Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger because he did not try to help Trump overturn the election.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who recently spoke at a white nationalist political conference and reportedly helped far-right figure Ali Alexander plan the Jan. 6 event, called the insurrectionists “peaceful patriots,” while decrying their continued imprisonment.