RNC Chair McDaniel Still Refuses To Say If Biden Was Legitimately Elected

She also declines to say if the RNC has an obligation to make sure their next nominee does not try to overthrow the republic should they lose, as Trump did.
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel answers reporters' questions at a breakfast Thursday hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel answers reporters' questions at a breakfast Thursday hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON — Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel refused to say Thursday if Democrat Joe Biden was legitimately elected, instead acknowledging that he is currently president and claiming that “problems” remained about his election.

“I think there were lots of problems with the election, and I think it needs to be looked at, but, yeah, he’s the president. It sucks,” she said at a meeting with journalists hosted by Christian Science Monitor.

When McDaniel was pressed for examples, she responded with claims that the news media did not aggressively cover Biden’s campaign to point out more of his flaws or sufficiently play up “scandals” that dominated outlets loyal to former President Donald Trump.

“I think the fact that he sat in his basement and he didn’t get vetted and the media gave him a free pass on that,” she said.

McDaniel, who was handpicked to run the party by Trump following his election in 2016 and then backed by him for two more two-year terms, also refused to say whether the party or the RNC specifically had a responsibility to make sure that their 2024 presidential nominee was someone who would not try to overthrow the republic in the event of a general election loss — as Trump did in the days and weeks leading up to the assault he incited on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“I think the voters are going to determine who the nominee of our party is,” she said, and then rattled off many of the various grievances that Trump has repeatedly aired about his term in office and the 2020 election, from the investigation into the assistance his 2016 campaign received from Russia to “Big Tech” to changes in voting rules brought on by the COVID pandemic.

“Republican voters are frustrated right now, and they’re right to be frustrated,” she said.

In fact, Trump’s own head of election cybersecurity called the 2020 election the most secure in history. His attorney general, Bill Barr, said publicly that the Department of Justice had failed to find election fraud significant enough that it would have changed the outcome of the contest, which Biden won by 7 million votes overall and 306-232 in the Electoral College.

McDaniel also refused to discuss a revelation from ABC News reporter Jon Karl’s new book that Trump on the day he left office threatened to leave the Republican Party to start his own, but was talked out of it by McDaniel.

“I’ve never shared my conversations with the president and I’m not about to start doing that now,” she said, but then acknowledged that Trump’s departure from the party would be devastating heading into the 2022 midterm elections. “If he left the party, Republicans would lose.”

McDaniel and the rest of the RNC were meeting in Amelia Island, Florida, for their winter meeting on Jan. 6. The following day, when Trump called into a session, he was given a sustained ovation. And the day after that, when McDaniel gave her acceptance speech after winning her third two-year term, she repeated some of Trump’s falsehoods about the election and pledged to travel the country to meet with Republican state lawmakers “and make sure that what we saw in this election never happens again.”

Trump in January became the first president in 232 years of U.S. elections to refuse to turn over power peacefully to his successor.

He spent weeks attacking the legitimacy of the Nov. 3, 2020, contest that he lost, starting his lies in the predawn hours of Nov. 4 that he had really won in a “landslide” and that his victory was being “stolen” from him. Those falsehoods continued through a long string of failed lawsuits challenging the results in a handful of states.

Trump and some of his advisers even discussed using the military by invoking the Insurrection Act or declaring martial law to retain power despite having lost the election, including by seizing voting machines and ordering “re-votes” in states narrowly won by Biden.

But military leaders had earlier made it clear they would not involve themselves in the political process, so after the Electoral College finally voted on Dec. 14, making Biden’s win official, Trump instead turned to a last-ditch scheme to pressure his own vice president into canceling the ballots of millions of voters in several states Biden won and declaring Trump the winner during the pro forma congressional certification of the election results on Jan. 6.

Trump asked his followers to come to Washington that day and then told the tens of thousands who showed up to march on the Capitol to intimidate Vice President Mike Pence into doing what Trump wanted. “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules,” Trump said.

The mob of supporters he incited attempted to do his bidding by storming the building. They even chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after the vice president refused to comply with Trump’s demands.

A police officer died after being assaulted during the insurrection, and four others took their own lives in the days and weeks that followed. One of the rioters was fatally shot as she climbed through a broken window into an anteroom containing still-evacuating House members, and three others in the crowd died during the melee.

Though the House impeached Trump for inciting the attack, all but seven Senate Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), chose not to convict him ― thereby letting Trump continue his political career even as faces several investigations into his post-election actions.

Trump and his allies are now engaged in a campaign to portray the rioter who was shot, Ashli Babbitt, as a martyr and the hundreds of others who have been arrested as victims of political persecution. Trump himself continues to suggest he will run for the 2024 GOP nomination and is using his Save America committee’s money to continue spreading the same falsehoods that culminated in the violence of Jan. 6.

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