Iowa Republican leaders universally denounced the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters. But not one of them has condemned Trump's continued lies about a "stolen" victory, nor have any unequivocally said that Joe Biden won a free and fair election.
On the contrary, Iowa's top Republican officials have acknowledged Biden will be president while validating the fantasy of widespread irregularities or "illegal" votes in key states that delivered Biden's electoral college win.
THE BIG LIE
Biden's popular vote margin over Trump (more than 7 million votes and 4.5 percent in terms of vote share) was larger than George W. Bush or Barack Obama managed in their successful re-election bids. Biden's lead in every state he flipped from Trump was also outside any good-faith or reasonable doubt about the outcome. Certified results show:
Yet Trump continues to claim he not only won a second term, but won it in a landslide. Here's the video he posted to Twitter late in the day on January 6, following the deadly insurrection at the Capitol. "We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side. [...] This was a fraudulent election."
In a must-read essay, Tim Alberta argued that what happened on January 6 was "9 Weeks — And 4 Years — in the Making."
I spent the last election cycle immersed in the metastasizing paranoia behind Wednesday’s assault on Congress. Nobody should be surprised by what just happened. [...]
Make no mistake: Plenty of the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol complex on Wednesday really, truly believed that Trump had been cheated out of four more years; that Vice President Mike Pence had unilateral power to revise the election results; that their takeover of the building could change the course of history. I know this because I know several people who were there, and several more who planned to go. They bear responsibility for their actions, of course. But the point remains: They were conned into coming to D.C. in the first place, not just by Trump with his compulsive lying, but by the legions of Republicans who refused to counter those lies, believing it couldn’t hurt to humor the president and stoke the fires of his base.
Top Iowa Republicans are still among those legions who humor Trump and his deluded supporters. Like Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, they justify their actions by citing belief in, or allegations of, widespread fraud--without acknowledging that those beliefs stem from incessant, deliberate lies.
KIM REYNOLDS: "THERE ARE A LOT OF QUESTIONS OUT THERE"
Days before electoral college met in December, weeks after it became clear Biden had earned 306 electoral votes, Governor Kim Reynolds endorsed the Texas lawsuit seeking to throw out the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia. On what basis did she want to disenfranchise millions of voters in those four states? Reynolds explained in a statement, “As I have said all along, President Trump, his campaign, and supporters have every right to pursue lawful, legal action in the courts. The American people deserve a fair and transparent election.”
There was no "lawful, legal" path to tossing four states' certified election results. There was no legitimate basis for claiming the 2020 presidential election had not been "fair and transparent." Reynolds was amplifying dishonest Republican fantasies that Trump had been cheated but still had a path to victory.
During a January 7 media forum organized by the Iowa Capitol Press Association, Reynolds opened with a statement emphasizing that she condemned the previous day's violence at the Capitol. Moderator Erin Murphy asked whether the governor was still proud of being associated with Trump, and whether she regretted not helping the peaceful transition along by acknowledging Biden's win sooner. Reynolds deflected:
You know, what we need to do is stop pointing fingers. And we need to move forward. And we need to stop the rhetoric, and we need to sit at the table, and we need to have constructive conversations.
Reynolds said she had done that and had worked with others on issues like COVID-19, the response to the August 2020 derecho, and a bipartisan policing reform bill.
And so, we need to focus on that, and we need to move forward. I've said all along, there's a process. We need to make sure that we follow the process. The process has been followed. Last night Congress, they certified the electoral results, I believe President Trump said this morning there will be a peaceful transition.
And we also, though, need to--there are a lot of questions out there. And so, you know, we can still move forward in a peaceful transition, and figure out some way to responsibly take a look at making sure that the people feel that the integrity of our election process is intact. And we shouldn't be afraid of answering those questions, of asking those questions, and seeing what we can do to make sure that we have a transparent system moving forward.
And you know, it has to be self-evident. They can't just be told. You know, Americans can't just be told, "It is." They have to believe it. And so it has to be, you know, it has to be transparent, it has to be secure, it has to be strict, and it has to be fair.
And we can do it. I believe we've done it in Iowa. We have--you know, we're a great example, we're a great model for other states to follow.
If Reynolds is worried about "pointing fingers" and divisive rhetoric, she can start by telling Trump and his allies to stop lying about a supposedly stolen victory or a lack of "integrity" in states whose voters preferred Biden.
To say "the process has been followed" obscures the reality of what's been happening. Every other losing presidential candidate in our country's history has accepted defeat without filing frivolous lawsuits to disenfranchise millions of Americans. No one but Trump asked state legislators to name electors for him in states he lost. No one but Trump has interfered with investigations or demanded that state officials "find" him votes to overturn the result. No one but Trump has asked Congress or the vice president to reject electoral slates from states that went against him. And of course, only Trump urged supporters to come to Washington on January 6 for the purpose of disrupting a constitutional process.
For Reynolds to say "it has to be self-evident" and people "can't just be told" their candidate lost is a dodge. Leaders need to acknowledge basic facts.
Trump lost the election, and Iowa's governor is still implying there are valid reasons for Americans to believe elections in other states weren't transparent, secure, strict, or fair.
Murphy followed up by noting that the violence in Washington happened in part because of unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Should Republican leaders like Reynolds and Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst been more proactive in assuring Americans that the election was sound and Biden was the winner? Reynolds replied,
Well, there are questions. No, there are questions. And I just said that, Erin. I said when people don't believe it, when it's not self-evident, when they have questions, what are we afraid of? Are we afraid of answering those questions? Are we afraid of putting a group together, or putting some kind of process together where we can reaffirm and we can answer some of those questions?
If you don't--I mean, I don't care, you know, what your politics are or what you believe happened in this election. When you have half of the electorate that feels that maybe something--that it's not valid, then that's a concern for our republic. And we want to do everything we can to address that.
And so, you know, it's, we can't--you can't shut people down. But you also, you have to do it in a respectful manner. You know, violence isn't the answer.
If "half the electorate" believes something that's false, then leaders should try to dispel the lies and discredit the liars. Who better to do that than Republicans like Reynolds, Grassley, and Ernst, who have been unfailingly loyal to Trump throughout his presidency?
Speaking of Iowa's senators...
GRASSLEY AND ERNST STILL HYPING "ILLEGAL VOTES" AND "IRREGULARITIES"
Neither Grassley nor Ernst spoke during the Senate debate on certifying the electoral vote, which took place a few hours after the Capitol was secured. In written statements enclosed in full below, the senators denounced violence and explained they didn't feel the role of Congress was to overturn state-certified election results.
However, neither affirmed that any swing states had correctly awarded electoral votes to Biden. Both lent credence to complaints about fraudulent elections. Grassley argued, "it’s important to take seriously concerns about election irregularities to restore faith in our election system."
Our Constitution sets up a federal system, of which the Electoral College is a key component, ensuring that states like Iowa have a voice. I swore to uphold the Constitution, therefore I cannot support any effort to undermine the constitutional role of states in elections. I share the frustration of many Americans about the election outcome, and I’m also concerned about claims of irregularities that were exacerbated by states changing their rules at the eleventh hour. Going forward, it’s important that state legislatures closely scrutinize the events of this election and take necessary steps to promote independence, transparency and trust in future elections.”
For her part, Ernst said, “There is no doubt we should ferret out any illegal votes and learn from any irregularities during the 2020 presidential election. This is one reason why I am supporting Senator Tim Scott’s (R-SC) effort to establish a bipartisan commission to study the integrity and administration of the election." Trump's legal team has yet to produce evidence of any "illegal votes" for Biden, let alone enough to change results in any state.
Both senators' written statements drew analogies to the disputed election in Iowa's second Congressional district, where Democrat Rita Hart is contesting Mariannette Miller-Meeks' certified victory by six votes. The crucial difference, of course, is that there is real doubt about which Congressional candidate received more votes in the IA-02 counties. Whereas Trump's allies have nothing supporting their wild conspiracy theories, Hart has sworn affidavits from more than enough eligible voters whose legally cast ballots were never counted to overturn the result in her race.
On January 7, Grassley and Ernst sent some news organizations statements that mildly criticized Trump. Brianne Pfannenstiel and Stephen Gruber-Miller reported for the Des Moines Register,
“Everyone must take responsibility for their destructive actions yesterday, including the president," U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement Thursday. "As the leader of the nation, the president bears some responsibility for the actions that he inspires — good or bad. Sadly, yesterday he displayed poor leadership in his words and actions, and he must take responsibility.”
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, also said in a statement that the president bears some responsibility for the ransacking of the Capitol and the lives that were lost.
"The president did not display good leadership, and I do think he bears some responsibility for what happened," she said. "The responsibility also lies with the violent mob who stormed the Capitol, and they should be held accountable to the full extent of the law. It’s time everyone tone down the rhetoric, and we work to bring our nation together.”
Notably, Grassley and Ernst didn't post those statements on their social media feeds, and they are not accessible on the senators' official websites. Were they afraid to post anything negative about the outgoing president?
UPDATE: Ernst continued the game in a guest column the Des Moines Register published on January 11.
I understand that many Iowans are upset with the results of the 2020 presidential election, and that most of these hardworking people would not resort to the violence we saw this week in an attempt to get a different outcome. I’ve received countless calls, texts, emails, and letters from Iowans with real concerns about the integrity of our election system. I hear their voices, and believe we should have a thorough review of this past election — which is why I support my good friend and colleague Sen. Tim Scott’s bipartisan effort to establish a commission to do so.
The senator should be telling those Iowans that they've been misled and their "real concerns" have no basis in reality.
ASHLEY HINSON ALREADY REWRITING HISTORY
Newly-elected Representative Ashley Hinson tiptoed closer to holding Trump accountable for the violent insurrection: "Words matter and rhetoric matters and we saw that really firsthand at the Capitol this week ... And I was disappointed in how the president handled the situation."
But Hinson has glossed over her own role in stirring up doubts about whether Biden won fair and square. In a January 8 tweet, she correctly noted that she voted to certify the election but wrongly claimed she had "never implied" Biden's win was not legitimate.
Last month, Hinson called the Texas lawsuit seeking to disenfranchise millions of Americans in four large states a "values statement." Shane Vander Hart reported for Iowa Torch,
"I support the President; I believe he deserved re-election. And I believe he has the right to pursue the legal remedies, and we need to let these cases play out.” [...]
Hinson said that people she spoke with on both sides of the aisle want to make sure their vote is counted and that illegal votes are not counted. [...]
She later explained what she meant by calling the lawsuit a “values statement.” She said ultimately the lawsuit is about drawing attention to problems some states have with their election process.
“I support the president, obviously, but I was torn about whether I signed onto a lawsuit like this or not. But the point is that states need to make sure that their elections have the integrity that voters expect. And I think that’s what this is, that’s what this lawsuit is about spotlighting the challenges and making sure that that standard is high. So I think when states engage that, that’s what that statement is saying we want every state to be up to this standard,” Hinson remarked.
The only way to read this is that Hinson believes some states may have counted "illegal votes" for Biden or otherwise failed to safeguard election integrity. That wasn't a slip of the tongue on one press call. She posted on Facebook on January 4,
Many Americans across the country felt their votes weren’t counted in this election while illegal ones were. Thankfully, this did not happen in Iowa, where our electoral process was safe and secure. [...]
Iowa’s elections were run smoothly, and I believe, securely—we have mechanisms in place to count all legal votes and safeguard against fraud. However, many of my new colleagues have serious concerns about election mismanagement in their home states.
The obvious implication is that elections in some blue states were not safe and secure. Hinson must be well aware that there is no evidence supporting this concept.
The day before the attempted coup at the Capitol, Hinson was among a dozen House Republicans to co-sign a letter calling for the electoral vote count to be certified. Crucially, that letter raised the possibility that Biden didn't really win the election. It began with specious claims about "abuses" and "lack of safeguards":
We, like most Americans, are outraged at the significant abuses in our election system resulting from the reckless adoption of mail-in ballots and the lack of safeguards maintained to guarantee that only legitimate votes are cast and counted. It is shameful that between both chambers of the U.S. Congress, we have held precisely one hearing on election integrity since Election Day.
The people cannot trust a system that refuses to guarantee that only legal votes are cast to select its leaders. The elections held in at least six battleground states raise profound questions, and it is a legal, constitutional, and moral imperative that they be answered.
There are no "profound questions" about whether Biden won any state that awarded its electoral votes to him. There are only ambitious Republicans capitalizing on Trump's lies.
Speaking of which...
MARIANNETTE MILLER-MEEKS: "THERE WAS FRAUD"
Miller-Meeks is extremely lucky to be serving in Congress. If election administrators in Iowa hadn't wrongly excluded more than a dozen ballots, Hart would have been certified the winner in the second district.
Like her Iowa colleagues, Miller-Meeks voted to certify the electoral vote count on Wednesday. But she echoed Trump's grievances in an interview with the Quad-City Times the next day. Her hypocrisy and bad-faith effort to blame "both sides" was stunning.
"I think it's important that we as a nation understand that you have a large percentage of Americans, millions of Americans — 60 million to 70 million Americans — who feel that their voices have not been heard" and feel aggrieved over election "irregularities that were not addressed." [...]
"I think in order to listen to people and to heal our nation — to answer those grievances — that there should be either an investigation or a commission to look into that," she said. "There was fraud. There were irregularities. There were states that did not follow their state law, and/or election officials violated state law. I think all of those things are worthwhile to address so that everyone has faith and confidence and trust in the election system." [...]
Miller-Meeks called for "a federal baseline" for absentee ballots cast by mail and signature verification.
"It has to be looked into," she said of how some states conducted elections during a pandemic. "And, if we don't do that, then there will still be suspicion that it was an election that had irregularities."
Such suspicion is widespread only because Trump and his loyalists have big megaphones, and cowardly politicians like Miller-Meeks treat their claims as credible.
RANDY FEENSTRA IMPLIED ELECTION WASN'T "SAFE AND SECURE"
The new representative from Iowa's fourth Congressional district asserted in December that Trump won Iowa because "we have voter ID. This ensures safe and secure elections. This is what the President is fighting for. We need Voter ID across the country to ensure the integrity of our elections. Faith in our electoral process is fundamental to our republic."
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia are among the states with "strict" voter ID laws. Iowa and Michigan are in the "non-strict" category, but unlike Iowa, Michigan's statute requires photo ID.
Appearing on the Iowa PBS program "Iowa Press" on December 18, Feenstra strained mightily to avoid saying Biden was the president-elect. Remember, the electoral college had already met on December 14 and delivered 306 electoral votes to Biden. That wasn't enough for Feenstra.
[Erin] Murphy: Congressman, on January 3rd you will be sworn in, Congressman-elect I should say, then you will be sworn in as Congressman on January 3rd. A few short days later the House will tabulate the Electoral College results for the presidential election. Do you plan to object to those results as they currently stand?
Feenstra: I'll tell you what, the great thing about our country is that we have this foundation of this electoral process and we saw that play out this past Monday when the Electoral College cast their votes and then we have the opportunity to do that on January 6th and I look forward to that opportunity.
Murphy: But are you not signed onto a letter that is asking Speaker Pelosi to investigate the presidential election results?
Feenstra: I did. I signed onto that and if you look at our elections in totality and what has happened, when COVID happened in late February, early March when it all came about, that dramatically changed the landscape when it came to the electoral process. And Iowa, along with all other states, had to look at absentee and mail-in voting. And we were very prepared. [...] And that is why I think every one of us, because of what we have in our representative democracy, this cornerstone of our elections, that we have to protect it with everything we have and make sure that it is fair and balanced. And that is what we're doing and that is why we have to let everything play out.
Murphy: So to be clear, do you have concerns -- you want to see the processes examined, but do you have any doubt about the outcome of the presidential election?
Feenstra: No, I just want to say, I want the processes all to be played out and I want to make sure that we have this foundation that we have to secure and protect and we'll come out of that on January 6th and look forward to saying, all right, what do we need to do?
Murphy: Do you at this point consider Joe Biden the President-elect of the United States?
Feenstra: I tell you what, I look forward to January 6th. We had the Electoral College do their thing this past Monday and part of the Constitution says that we have ours come January 6th.
[David] Yepsen: Why is it so hard for conservative republicans to say the words President-elect Joe Biden?
Feenstra: As I said, I think it's the circumstance of what we're in. And literally if you look at the circumstance, and this is the first time ever in our country, ever in our country that we have had mail-in ballot predominantly. So I think we all want to make sure, protect what we have, and there is still some litigation out there. And for me it's all about, all right, let's make sure that litigation is done and let's move forward.
If not for Miller-Meeks' precarious situation, Feenstra would surely have joined the House Republicans objecting to the electoral college results.
Feenstra tweeted during the insurrection that "Violence is never the answer" and urged participants to be peaceful. The next day, he commented, "America can, and must, be better than what we witnessed yesterday."
But he told a reporter with KCRG-TV's Washington bureau that a "wonderful group" of protesters simply "got carried away." Feenstra's spokesperson attempted some clean-up, distinguishing between the peaceful pro-Trump protests and the later incidents of "violence and anarchy."
Let's be clear: the sole purpose of the January 6 event was to pressure members of Congress to overturn the presidential election. Organizers said they would "march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal."
Handing a second term to a losing president is not an admirable goal even for a peaceful gathering--which Wednesday's was not. Before anyone stormed the Capitol, protesters built a gallows, complete with a noose, and carried Confederate flags, the ultimate symbol of treason animated by white supremacy.
MITT ROMNEY SHOWED HOW IT'S DONE
Senator Mitt Romney is among the few Republican elected officials who told the truth about why this attempted coup happened. If you didn't watch his speech on the Senate floor during the electoral vote count, I highly recommend it.
My transcript of the key portion:
Now we gather due to a selfish man’s injured pride, and the outrage of supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning.
What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the president of the United States. Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy. Fairly or not, they'll be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. That will be their legacy. [...]
For any who remain insistent on an audit, in order to satisfy the many people who believe that the election was stolen, I'd offer this perspective. No Congressional audit is ever going to convince these voters, particularly when the president will continue to say that the election was stolen.
The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth. [applause] That's the burden, that's the duty of leadership. The truth is that President-elect Biden won this election. President Trump lost. I've had that experience myself. It's no fun.
Scores of courts, the president’s own attorney general, state election officials, both Republican and Democrat have reached that unequivocal decision.
Sad to say, none of Iowa's top GOP officials were willing to go beyond the bare minimum of condemning violence at the seat of government. The future of democracy is in danger as long as they validate Trump's big lie and the wrongheaded belief that the only "safe and secure" elections are the ones Republicans win.
Appendix: Publicly available news releases from Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst
Released by Grassley's office on January 6:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today condemned the violent attack on the nation’s capital and implored all Americans to honor the nation’s principles through their actions.
“Today’s violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was an attack on American democracy itself. This was not a demonstration of any of our protected, inalienable rights. These were un-American acts worthy only of condemnation. Those who plowed over police barricades, ignored law enforcement or desecrated our monument to representative democracy flouted the rule of law and disgraced our nation.
“I condemn today’s violence in the strongest terms and perpetrators deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“The United States has stood as a beacon of self-governance, free expression and the peaceful transfer of leadership since its founding, and we must uphold these principles. Our nation has been through highs and lows. We’ve vigorously debated differing philosophies and have endured disagreements on policy and leadership. Through it all, our shared values have held strong. We must not lose grip of those shared values today.
“This is a sad day for America. As a nation, we must be better than this.”
Released later on January 6:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) issued the statement below regarding the Congressional certification of Electoral College votes. His statement on the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol can be found HERE.
“The violence and disruption we saw today must not be allowed to disrupt or intimidate us from performing our constitutional duty as lawmakers. I took an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution, even in the face of threats. That is the lens through which I view today’s process.
“The Constitution and our laws give Congress few options and limited authorities when it comes to certifying presidential election results. Congress has no role in conducting elections or adjudicating election disputes, only receiving and formally counting the electoral votes cast in each state. This constitutional process allows the states to determine under their own laws and legal systems how their electoral votes are allocated. And let’s be clear about what the stakes are here. If an objection to a state’s electoral certification is sustained, the state’s electoral votes are thrown out, not reallocated to a different candidate. So anyone voting to object to any state’s certification of electoral votes is voting to disenfranchise an entire state.
“The right place to resolve electoral disputes is in the courts. As we saw in Iowa’s Second District House race, there is an established process to review election disputes, and that process should not involve Congress overriding independent judicial decisions. Our independent legal system is tasked with expeditiously evaluating election disputes. To date, 78 lawsuits have been filed alleging election irregularities in various states. They have had their day in court but none of them was successful in changing election results in any state. Politicians in Washington should not second guess the courts once they have ruled, and we cannot and should not consider allegations not formally presented to a court of law. The question before Congress is not whether there are legitimate complaints about how elections were conducted; only whether to accept or reject entirely the electoral votes cast by a state. I could not in good conscience vote to disenfranchise an entire state.
“That said, it’s important to take seriously concerns about election irregularities to restore faith in our election system. Democrats are wrong to reject this discussion out of hand. They attempted to object to certifying the last three Republican presidential elections on the grounds of alleged election irregularities. I opposed those efforts to reject the state certified vote counts each time. Our Constitution sets up a federal system, of which the Electoral College is a key component, ensuring that states like Iowa have a voice. I swore to uphold the Constitution, therefore I cannot support any effort to undermine the constitutional role of states in elections. I share the frustration of many Americans about the election outcome, and I’m also concerned about claims of irregularities that were exacerbated by states changing their rules at the eleventh hour. Going forward, it’s important that state legislatures closely scrutinize the events of this election and take necessary steps to promote independence, transparency and trust in future elections.”
Ernst Statement on Electoral College Vote Count
Jan 06 2021
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) issued the following statement regarding the certification of the Electoral College votes:
“In the military, I proudly served alongside some of the brightest and bravest men and women to defend America—her freedoms and her values. We fought to uphold the right to peaceful protest. Sadly, what I witnessed today in the U.S. Capitol was a complete betrayal of those sacred ideals. What started as a protest turned into anarchy. Individuals who resorted to this violence must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
“America – we cannot stand for this.
“For years, we have been able to disagree and debate tough issues and always strive to be a more perfect union. We have had a peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another throughout the course of our history, and it’s paramount we do that once again.
“There is no doubt we should ferret out any illegal votes and learn from any irregularities during the 2020 presidential election. This is one reason why I am supporting Senator Tim Scott’s (R-SC) effort to establish a bipartisan commission to study the integrity and administration of the election.
“When looking at the election for Iowa’s second Congressional district, I have been consistently clear that Mariannette Miller-Meeks won. Though the margin was close, Iowans spoke and elected Congresswoman Miller-Meeks, and a bipartisan panel in Iowa certified the results. I view the presidential election results the same way. As a senator, my job is not to overturn the will of voters and choose winners of elections—just like it’s not the House of Representatives’ to handpick who serves as Iowa’s second district congresswoman.
“We’ve heard time and again from Democrats who would like nothing more than to abolish the Electoral College and federalize our election system. What would that do? Silence Iowans’ voices and votes. I won’t allow that to happen.
“Many Iowans supported President Trump in the most recent election and are disappointed by the results. However, objecting to the Electoral College vote count will not change the outcome. And, beyond that, the reprehensible violence we’ve seen in the U.S. Capitol today will not change the outcome.
“Iowans should rest assured that I will continue fighting for our shared values and priorities, and that I will hold the new administration accountable. I truly believe America is the greatest nation on the planet, and she must continue to be a beacon of freedom and hope for everyone around the globe,” said Senator Joni Ernst, the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate.
Top image: Screen shot from Governor Kim Reynolds' appearance at the Iowa Capitol Press Association's Legislative Preview Forum, which took place via Zoom on January 7.