A Year Later, GOP Lawmakers Still Won't Say If Joe Biden Is Actually President
It’s been a year since 147 Republican lawmakers voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election after fueling a lie about widespread voter fraud.
They cast their votes just hours after a mob of white supremacist supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol with plans to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Vice President Mike Pence and others to stop them from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win. They believed the lie, and Trump himself egged them on. Hundreds of lawmakers, staff, reporters and other workers hid for their lives. Five people died and hundreds were injured. Four police officers who defended the Capitol that day later died by suicide.
Biden overwhelmingly won the election. There was never evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Do those 147 Republicans now concede that Biden was elected president, fair and square, a full year later? Do they regret their votes against certifying the Electoral College count? HuffPost posed both questions to all 147 Republicans over the span of a couple of weeks in December, either in person or via their offices. (One of those members, former Rep. Ron Wright of Texas, passed away in February.)
They overwhelmingly declined to answer.
“Call our press office,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) when asked if he believes Biden fairly won the election a year ago.
Cruz stood in a Senate elevator as he spoke, and the doors weren’t closing for some reason. HuffPost pressed him on why he wouldn’t answer the question himself since it was about his own belief. For the next seven seconds, Cruz stared blankly in silence until the doors finally closed.
“Cold,” muttered a Capitol Hill photographer standing nearby.
HuffPost went ahead and followed up with Cruz’s press office. “Thanks, Jen, we’ll check on this,” his spokesperson Maria Jeffrey emailed back. They never responded after that.
“Who are you with?” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) when asked if he regretted his Jan. 6 vote. When HuffPost identified itself, Kennedy walked away.
“Yeah, I don’t have anything for you on that,” he said. “I have people waiting on me.”
HuffPost asked Kennedy again a couple of weeks later, in the event he actually had people waiting on him that first time.
“I don’t have anything for you,” he said again, walking away.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) laughed as HuffPost began asking about her vote against certifying Biden’s election.
“I don’t do hallway interviews,” she said, stepping into a Senate elevator.
Asked if she does elevator interviews, Hyde-Smith chuckled again as the doors closed. “I don’t do them in the elevator, either.”
Some GOP senators seemed annoyed at having to answer the question at all.
“He’s the constitutionally elected president,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who voted against certifying Biden’s election. “I’ve said it like a zillion times.”
Asked if he regretted his vote, Scott simply said, “No.”
Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) both firmly said “yes” when asked if they believe Biden won the election fairly. And both just as firmly said “no” about regretting their Jan. 6 votes against certifying the Electoral College results.
Aides to Sens. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) ― the remaining two GOP senators who voted against certifying Biden’s election ― did not respond to emailed requests for comment on both questions.
Of the 139 House Republicans who voted to overturn the election, an aide to just one of them ― one! ― responded to HuffPost’s questions.
“Congressman Sessions stands firm in his decision to vote against certifying the election results of Arizona and Pennsylvania for the purpose of further review,” said Nicole Myers, a spokesperson for Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas).
“There were abnormalities and inconsistencies that Americans were and are still very concerned about,” said Myers, even though there has never been any evidence of widespread voting fraud in Arizona or in Pennsylvania. “Congressman Sessions’ vote was never intended to overturn the election rather to send back the results to the states for a deeper investigation so that Americans could have peace of mind and confidence in the election system.”
An aide to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) also replied to HuffPost’s email but apparently only to complain about not being asked about something else.
“Reaching back out with one question: Is this the first time you’ve written to me this year?” wrote Issa spokesperson Jonathan Wilcox.
When HuffPost said yes, it appeared to be, Wilcox responded, “That’s what I thought, too.” He never followed up with an answer to either question.
For the moment, Rep. Tom Rice (S.C.) appears to be the only House Republican who publicly regrets his vote against certifying Biden’s win.
He told Politico last month that he should have voted to certify “because President Trump was responsible for the attack on the Capitol.”
“In the wee hours of that disgraceful night, while waiting for the Capitol of our great country to be secured, I knew I should vote to certify,” Rice said. “But because I had made a public announcement of my intent to object, I did not want to go back on my word. So, yeah, I regret my vote to object.”
Alex Enlow, a spokesperson for Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), made a point to highlight that her boss did vote to certify the votes for Biden as president. Enlow used to work for Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), who voted not to certify Biden’s win, and HuffPost initially reached out to her for comment about Steube. Enlow responded with an update on her job change ― and a statement from Scott.
“Congress does not have the Constitutional authority to overturn a state’s electoral votes,” Scott said, “so I upheld my oath to the Constitution and voted to certify the election.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.