The No 2 Republican in the US House of Representatives repeatedly refused to answer whether he believed the 2020 election was “stolen” from former President Donald Trump.
Rep Steve Scalise, the House minority whip, appeared on Fox News Sunday where host Chris Wallace quizzed him several times about his view regarding the continued, persistent false belief that Mr Trump was the rightful victor of the November election.
In response, the Republican congressman said several times that multiple states, citing Georgia and Arizona as his examples, “didn’t follow their legislatively set rules” during the 2020 election; some supporters of Mr Trump have made this claim in reference to the expansion of mail-in ballots in response to the Covid-19 crisis, though no lawsuits have been successful at the state level in challenging the results on that issue.
Mr Wallace asked Mr Scalise several times to state his view on the overall result of the 2020 election, Mr Trump’s loss, only for the congressman to dodge the issue entirely.
“The question is, last time, I promise, do you think the election was stolen or not?” Mr Wallace asked Mr Scalise, conceding that he had made his point about his view regarding state officials supposedly not following laws.
“It’s not just irregularities, its states that did not follow the laws set which the Constitution says they are supposed to follow,” Mr Scalise responded, avoiding the direct question.
Steve Scalise on Fox News Sunday repeatedly refuses to acknowledge that the 2020 election was not stolen from Donald Trump pic.twitter.com/EME1lBK1vA— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 10, 2021
His refusal to answer illustrates the ongoing bind in which many Republicans find themselves; if they deny Mr Trump’s false claims regarding his 2020 defeat, they risk retribution in the form of a primary challenger backed by the former president himself. Should they go the other way and fully embrace Mr Trump’s schemes to discourage trust in the electoral system, they risk alienating centrist voters and some independents who were revolted by the events of 6 January, when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol grounds demanding a halt to the certification of their candidate’s loss.
Mr Scalise has remained largely aligned with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on supporting the former president publicly while not echoing some of his wilder claims. But they saw their caucus divided resulting in the ouster of Rep Liz Cheney as the GOP House conference chair.
Ms Cheney sharply rebuked Mr Scalise on Sunday after his Fox News appearance, tweeting: “Millions of Americans have been sold a fraud that the election was stolen. Republicans have a duty to tell the American people that this is not true. Perpetuating the Big Lie is an attack on the core of our constitutional republic.”
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