Rep. Wittman, stop misrepresenting my record, start defending democracy
On January 6th, then-President Donald Trump incited a deadly insurrection against Congress while we fulfilled our constitutional duty to count the electoral votes of the states. Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the chair of the House Republican Conference, strongly condemned the president, appropriately stating that “[T]here has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
In the days since this domestic terror attack on our democracy, troubling public reports of the timeline now reveal that several members of Congress, and perhaps even the vice president, were within moments of being captured and possibly murdered by the mob.
Ever since the Nov. 3 election, President Trump refused to concede and instead spewed lies, falsehoods and half-baked conspiracies claiming the election was stolen. These lies were the rallying cry of those that attacked the Capitol.
Unfortunately, few Republicans spoke out against the president’s lies, and far too many repeated them. Sadly, over half of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, including my colleague Rob Wittman, voted to validate the president’s lies and conspiracies that fueled the derangements of those who attacked the Capitol.
I have worked with Congressman Wittman for years on many issues critical to Virginia and I have always found him to be a man of integrity. That was why I was disappointed to see him try to explain his vote by using a statement I made 16 years ago to imply that I voted to overturn George W. Bush’s re-election.
In the wake of the 2004 election, some Democrats, as well as civil and voting rights organizations, expressed concern about voter suppression tactics in Ohio that disproportionately impacted minorities. The House Judiciary Committee staff and the independent Government Accountability Office also investigated these well-documented irregularities.
Congressman Wittman is welcome to defend his vote however he chooses, but he cannot misrepresent my record in the process. My colleague cited baseless, debunked and ridiculous conspiracy theories and then voted to overturn the 2020 election results. Whereas in 2005, I cited factual irregularities and even then voted to uphold the 2004 election.
My colleague’s vote was not isolated. It was the last desperate attempt in a coordinated campaign to overturn the election. It started prior to the election, as many Republicans argued for the lightning-fast confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to ensure her conservative vote on the Supreme Court in case lawsuits were filed to challenge the election.
Next it was President Trump’s barrage of lies and conspiracies. Then there were numerous lawsuits challenging the election results, including a bizarre lawsuit supported by a majority of House Republicans, including my colleague.
Thankfully, judges appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents, including Trump, threw out all of these meritless legal challenges.
Finally, the weekend before Congress was to certify his defeat, President Trump was caught on tape pressuring Georgia election officials to overturn their certified results without justification.
The last chance to overturn the results certified by Democratic and Republican election officials was to challenge the congressional count of the Electoral College. The murderous mob unsuccessfully tried to disrupt that process, but even after the insurrection, a majority of Republican members still voted to overturn the election.
Those who voted to violate the clear will of the people need to be held accountable for those votes and they should not try to blame Democrats who never voted to overturn an election.
Elected officials are obligated to tell the voters the truth—not validate the lies and misrepresentations of a dangerous demagogue more concerned about his bruised ego than our democracy. An election official in Georgia warned that if the lying did not stop, “someone’s going to get killed.”
It didn’t stop and people got killed.