WASHINGTON ― While most conservative groups rate members of Congress on issues like opposing taxes and supporting gun rights, a new one is ranking them on a more fundamental metric: how they treated former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn American democracy.
“It’s a sad sign of the times,” said Olivia Troye, a Trump White House official who has become an outspoken critic, now with the Republican Accountability Project. “It’s a very fundamental thing in our society. If you’re an elected official in our democracy, you should be pro-democracy.”
Under the group’s rankings, the top Republicans on Capitol Hill do not fare particularly well. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and his No. 2 officer, Whip Steve Scalise, both receive F grades. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, despite his floor speech rejecting Trump’s attempts to overturn the election, received a C-plus, as did Senate Whip John Thune.
However, the House’s third-ranking officer, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming ― who said there had “never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution” ― received an A.
“This is bottom-line, red-line, stuff here,” Troye said.
Out of 211 GOP House members to be graded, 128 received an F while only nine got an A or A-minus. Of 50 Republican senators, eight received an F while seven got an A.
McCarthy, who since Jan. 6 has repeatedly defended Trump’s actions and even visited him at his Mar-a-Lago tennis and croquet club in Palm Beach, Florida, did not respond to a HuffPost query about his ranking.
Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, who got an F, told HuffPost in a statement that he does not take the “never Trumper” group seriously. He repeated Trump’s false assertion that a number of states had “unconstitutionally violated election law” as the reason for his actions. “I will always receive an A rating defending the Constitution,” he said.
Trump lost the Nov. 3 election to Democrat Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes nationally and lost 306-232 in the Electoral College. He nonetheless started lying in the wee hours of Nov. 4 that he had won in “a landslide” and that his victory was being stolen from him.
Those lies culminated Jan. 6 in a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, which was incited by Trump’s request that the followers he had urged to come to Washington that day march on the building to intimidate his vice president and Congress into voiding enough states that Biden had won to allow Trump to be declared the winner.
The scheme failed when Mike Pence refused to go along with it and followed the Constitution to declare Biden the new president.
The “GOP Democracy Report Card,” released Monday, lets voters quickly see whether and to what extent their particular members of Congress went along with Trump’s attempts to overturn the election result and hang on to power despite losing. The Republican Accountability Project, an outgrowth of the same group that aired millions of dollars of “Republican Voters Against Trump” ads in the last election, looks at four specific criteria: whether they signed onto the Texas lawsuit that tried to let Trump “win” by canceling tens of millions of votes in four states won by Biden; whether they voted against certifying the results of the election; whether they made public statements supporting Trump’s election lies; and whether they voted to impeach or, for senators, convict Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riot.
One hundred and twenty-six GOP House members signed an amicus brief backing the Texas lawsuit; 139 Republican House members and eight senators voted to block certifying at least one state, even after the attack on the Capitol; and only 10 GOP House members voted to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 attack and just seven senators voted to convict him.
Troye said the rating used the members’ public statements in addition to concrete actions because they contributed to many Republican voters’ loss of confidence in the country’s elections. “You are going along with the big lie. You are contributing to the undermining of our democracy by doing that,” she said.