Iowa senators still won't debunk Big Lie about election

As Joe Biden’s presidency began on January 20, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst acknowledged the transfer of power “to a new presidential administration, a sacred tradition of our democracy.” Both she and Senator Chuck Grassley promised to work with the Biden administration on behalf of Iowans.

But Ernst and Grassley have yet to denounce Republicans who still claim, falsely, that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. On the contrary, in communications with Iowans, both senators continue to suggest there are legitimate concerns about election fraud in some states Biden carried.

ERNST VALIDATES “REAL CONCERNS” ABOUT ELECTION INTEGRITY

Bleeding Heartland has previously reported on public statements by Grassley, Ernst, Governor Kim Reynolds, and other top Iowa Republicans, who acknowledged in December that Biden would become president but kept lending credibility to false allegations about “illegal votes” or “irregularities.”

Ernst is sticking to that line in the reply her office sends to Iowans who write about the January 6 coup attempt or other Republican efforts to overturn the presidential election. Readers forwarded copies of the form letter they received on January 19; the full text is below. Key excerpt:

I recognize that for many Iowans, the results of the November 3, 2020 election were disappointing, while for others the results may have been welcome. 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 Senator Tim Scott’s (R-SC) bipartisan effort to establish a commission to do so.

The beauty of America is that we have the freedoms and rights to express ourselves at the ballot box and within our communities. We can disagree and agree openly with our friends and neighbors and can use our voice to influence what happens in Washington. No matter who sits in the White House, I will continue, as I always have, to work in the Senate for the issues most important to Iowans. I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I will keep fighting to defend the Constitution.

Every election leaves many people disappointed and others excited. But at no other time in U.S. history did a losing presidential candidate spend months afterward lying about his supposed “landslide” victory.

No evidence suggests there are legitimate grounds to worry about “the integrity of our election system.” The “real concerns” Ernst keeps hearing are from Iowans who have been deceived.

Instead of admitting that Biden received more votes in every state that awarded its electoral votes to him, Ernst hides behind a commitment to “a thorough review of this past election”–as if there might be good reason to doubt whether Biden won fair and square.

Instead of encouraging fellow Trump admirers to face the reality that the president didn’t win a second term, Ernst portrays disputes about the election as just another thing Americans may disagree about.

Trump and his enablers, including some members of Congress as well as radio and television hosts with large audiences, relentlessly lied about alleged fraud. The president pressured state legislators to award him electoral votes in states he didn’t win. His legal team filed dozens of frivolous lawsuits. He leaned on Georgia election officials to “find” enough votes to declare him the winner. When all that failed, Trump orchestrated a mass protest where he and others pushed the Big Lie, inciting a violent attempt to disrupt the work of the U.S. House and Senate.

Defending the Constitution demands more than the bare minimum of certifying the electoral college vote.

GRASSLEY DRAWS FALSE EQUIVALENCIES

Grassley’s form letter on this subject also validates complaints about the election, but goes a step further in declaring attempts to overturn Biden’s victory as comparable to actions by Democrats following the 2000, 2004, and 2016 elections.

As he has said previously, Grassley noted that Congress has limited constitutional authority “when it comes to certifying presidential election results.” He then normalized the tactic of losing candidates filing lawsuits without evidence to back up their claims.

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 by Trump campaign lawyers alleging election irregularities in various states. They have had their day in court but none of them was able to meet the legal standards to prove that there was widespread fraud or irregularities of the magnitude that would affect the election results. In fact, some of the more prominent claims about systematic, widespread fraud have been made primarily in the media, while the actual court filings by the Trump campaign’s lawyers either stipulated that fraud did not occur or such claims were withdrawn.

It would be helpful for Republicans of stature to say out loud that the “prominent claims about systematic, widespread fraud” were groundless. Aside from Senator Mitt Romney, few have done so. Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a step in that direction when he declared on the Senate floor this week that “the mob” who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 “was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.”

Grassley won’t admit that Trump and his allies lied to millions, hoping to prevent Biden from becoming president. Back to the letter he’s sending Iowans:

In December 2020, seventeen states filed suit in the Supreme Court attempting to challenge the election results in four states over claims of fraud and other voting irregularities. Iowa’s Attorney General Tom Miller made the independent decision to not join the Texas lawsuit. Ultimately the Supreme Court dismissed the suit, ordering that “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.”

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.

Grassley went on to assert that the January 6 objections were “not unprecedented.” (emphasis added)

On Wednesday January 6, 2021, Congress met to formally count the vote of the Electoral College. This occurred in a joint session of Congress. During this session, a number of representatives and senators raised objections to the certification of the Electoral College result in specific states based on concerns of voting irregularities. This was not unprecedented and occurred three times in the recent past following both the 2000 and 2004 elections of President George W. Bush and the 2016 election of President Trump. The objection in 2005 came in the wake of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about voting machines changing votes for John Kerry to George W. Bush and was signed by both Representative Tubbs Jones and Senator Boxer. In the ensuing debate in both chambers on whether to reject the electoral vote from Ohio, those members and many prominent members of their party echoed the concerns of many in the grassroots of their party about voting processes in Ohio and elsewhere.

Funny how Grassley sees the 2005 complaints as grounded in “unsubstantiated conspiracy theories” while whitewashing Trump’s mass disinformation campaign as “legitimate complaints about how elections were conducted.”

Not mentioned in the senator’s apples-to-oranges comparison:

  • John Kerry and Hillary Clinton conceded less than 24 hours after polls had closed, long before final vote counts were in.
  • Al Gore conceded immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court halted the Florida recount in December 2000.
  • None of the Democratic candidates falsely claimed to have “won in a landslide” or had victory stolen from them–even though Gore and Clinton won the national popular vote in their respective races.
  • None of the Democratic candidates attempted to pressure any state legislators or officials to alter vote counts or slates of electors on their behalf.
  • None of the Democratic candidates filed lawsuits challenging certified state results.
  • None of the Democratic candidates organized rallies seeking to overturn the presidential election.
  • None of the Democratic candidates called on fans to come to Washington to disrupt the electoral vote count.
  • To sum up: although a few members of Congress objected to the electoral college count in 2001, 2005, and 2017, there was no serious attempt to stop the election winner from becoming president.

    In contrast, Trump’s efforts to subvert the transfer of power were so persistent, and so alarming, that ten former defense secretaries signed a letter warning against involving the military in election disputes.

    Grassley again congratulated himself for certifying the electoral college vote: “I swore to uphold the Constitution, therefore I cannot support any effort to undermine the constitutional role of states in elections.” Yet he endorsed GOP talking points on so-called “irregularities.”

    That said, the debate we had was important in airing concerns about election irregularities and restoring faith in our election system. Partisan pundits and politicians who supported such a debate in 2005 are wrong to reject this discussion out of hand. 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.

    It sounds like the senator hopes Republican-controlled legislatures will establish new barriers to voting in some states Biden carried. On Grassley’s next conference call with Iowa reporters, someone should ask him which states merit close scrutiny, in his view, and what he means by promoting the “independence” of elections. Are the only trustworthy elections the ones Republicans win?
    _________________

    Appendix 1: Letter Senator Joni Ernst’s office sent constituents this week about the 2020 election

    Dear [constituent’s name],

    Thank you for taking the time to contact me about your perspective on the formal transition to the Biden Administration. It is important for me to hear from folks in Iowa on issues such as this.

    On December 14, 2020, the Electoral College voted to officially confirm Joe Biden to be the 46th President of the United States. Under Article II, Section 1, these results were certified by a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021. President-elect Biden’s inauguration is scheduled for January 20, 2021.

    I recognize that for many Iowans, the results of the November 3, 2020 election were disappointing, while for others the results may have been welcome. 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 Senator Tim Scott’s (R-SC) bipartisan effort to establish a commission to do so.

    The beauty of America is that we have the freedoms and rights to express ourselves at the ballot box and within our communities. We can disagree and agree openly with our friends and neighbors and can use our voice to influence what happens in Washington. No matter who sits in the White House, I will continue, as I always have, to work in the Senate for the issues most important to Iowans. I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I will keep fighting to defend the Constitution.

    I am committed to making Washington work for you and please know that I will continue to keep your views in mind going forward. Please feel free to contact my office in the future with any further information, as I always enjoy hearing from Iowans.

    Sincerely,

    Joni K. Ernst
    United States Senator

    Appendix 2: Letter Senator Chuck Grassley’s office sent constituents this week

    Dear [constituent’s name]:

    Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your concerns regarding the 2020 election. As your senator, it is important to me that I hear from you.

    First, I want to be absolutely clear that the violence and disruption we saw on January 6, must not be allowed to disrupt or intimidate us from performing our constitutional duty as lawmakers. I took an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution, even in the face of threats. I viewed my role in the process of counting the Electoral College votes through this lens.

    Throughout the election season and following Election Day on November 3, 2020, I have heard from many thousands of Iowans concerned about the electoral process. I appreciate being made aware of your views as well. My response to you will be the same as the other thousands of Iowans from all political perspectives because there is no possible way to give different responses to each one, and I do not tell different Iowans different things anyway.

    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 by Trump campaign lawyers alleging election irregularities in various states. They have had their day in court but none of them was able to meet the legal standards to prove that there was widespread fraud or irregularities of the magnitude that would affect the election results. In fact, some of the more prominent claims about systematic, widespread fraud have been made primarily in the media, while the actual court filings by the Trump campaign’s lawyers either stipulated that fraud did not occur or such claims were withdrawn.

    In December 2020, seventeen states filed suit in the Supreme Court attempting to challenge the election results in four states over claims of fraud and other voting irregularities. Iowa’s Attorney General Tom Miller made the independent decision to not join the Texas lawsuit. Ultimately the Supreme Court dismissed the suit, ordering that “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.”

    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.

    As outlined in the Constitution, the Electoral College met on December 14, 2020, to select the President-Elect and Vice President-Elect of the United States. The results, as certified and transmitted to Congress by the Electoral College meeting in each state, resulted in the election of former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris.

    On Wednesday January 6, 2021, Congress met to formally count the vote of the Electoral College. This occurred in a joint session of Congress. During this session, a number of representatives and senators raised objections to the certification of the Electoral College result in specific states based on concerns of voting irregularities. This was not unprecedented and occurred three times in the recent past following both the 2000 and 2004 elections of President George W. Bush and the 2016 election of President Trump. The objection in 2005 came in the wake of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about voting machines changing votes for John Kerry to George W. Bush and was signed by both Representative Tubbs Jones and Senator Boxer. In the ensuing debate in both chambers on whether to reject the electoral vote from Ohio, those members and many prominent members of their party echoed the concerns of many in the grassroots of their party about voting processes in Ohio and elsewhere.

    Following the objections raised by members of Congress this time, like in 2005, the House and Senate returned to their respective chambers to debate the matter and vote whether or not to count the votes from the states in question. I opposed rejecting the state certified vote counts each time it was proposed by the other side and I did again this 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.

    That said, the debate we had was important in airing concerns about election irregularities and restoring faith in our election system. Partisan pundits and politicians who supported such a debate in 2005 are wrong to reject this discussion out of hand. 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.

    As we enter the 117th Congress, I am focused on the pressing issues facing our nation. Although we have made great progress in our battle against COVID-19 and the related economic damage it has caused to our country, there remains much work to be done. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the next President and Vice President of the United States, as President Trump has acknowledged. As your senator, you can rest assured that I will work with them whenever I can find common ground in the best interests of our state and the nation and I will oppose policies that I do not think meet that standard as I have with every other president during my time in Congress.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. Please keep in touch.

    Sincerely,

    Chuck Grassley
    United States Senate

    • But Joni!

      Yet in her election apology for Trump’s actions, Sen. Ernst has NO trouble w/ how her vote total turned out!

      While I don’t know how Sen. Ernst will vote after the impeachment trial, I fully expect Sen. Grassley to convict the former President Trump of incitement of insurrection. That’s b/c he voted to convict former President Clinton of, well, what he voted to convict President Clinton of.

      (I joke. Grassley surely will find a way to excuse Trump of fomenting anger and stoking dissatisfaction and finally encouraging his followers to head to the Capitol — then sitting back and doing absolutely nothing to help senators and Congress members who where under attack.)

    • 7 Points

      Thank you for this. Your seven bullet points are especially cogent. Our Senators are cowards. They ought to speak the truth about the voting and the lies from Trump.

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