Minnesota’s Republican members of Congress remain publicly silent on President-elect Joe Biden’s defeat of President Donald Trump in last month’s election, and on the losing candidate’s frequent but unfounded claims of rampant voter fraud.
A month past Election Day, and days past the certification of Biden’s victory in the states that provided his winning margin, Minnesota’s three GOP congressmen and newly elected colleague continue to ignore requests for comment on the outcome of the race or on Trump’s allegations.
On Wednesday, Trump released a 46-minute video in which he again made unproven claims that the presidential election had been “rigged” and insisted, “I really won.” But myriad unspecific claims of voter fraud from Trump and his legal team have been shot down by federal judges for lack of evidence, and some influential Republicans are starting to acknowledge political reality.
Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee, said this week there is no evidence that voter fraud swung the election’s outcome. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a top ally, referred this week to the “new administration.” Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois criticized Trump for “baseless conspiracies” about the vote.
The Star Tribune this week renewed requests with the offices of U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer, Pete Stauber and Jim Hagedorn, along with Rep.-elect Michelle Fischbach, seeking comment on the presidential transition and Trump’s claims of fraud. None responded, and press representatives for all four also ignored follow-up text and phone messages.
“The president lost the election; that is crystal clear,” said Andy Brehm, a Minneapolis attorney and former Republican operative who worked for former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman and in the George W. Bush White House. Brehm said he has “enormous respect” for Minnesota’s GOP congressional delegation but is disappointed they’re not repudiating Trump’s claims.
“Republicans in the state are going to be looking to their leaders for guidance,” Brehm said. “To go along in silence with this charade is irresponsible.”
The three GOP congressmen have all positioned themselves as supporters of Trump’s agenda, and there’s little doubt the president’s popularity with Republican and right-leaning voters boosted their own electoral prospects. Their new colleague, Fischbach, unseated long-serving Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson last month in northwestern Minnesota’s Seventh District, where Trump performed strongly.
In the days immediately following the election, Hagedorn and Fischbach echoed some of the voter fraud allegations from Trump’s team, while Emmer and Stauber said allegations should be thoroughly investigated. A month later, no notable fraud has been publicly identified.
“We’re going to be dealing with the influence of Donald Trump for years to come, and he’s got a loyal following, so it’s going to make it harder for sensible Republicans to stand up and do the right thing,” said Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota DFL Party. “It shouldn’t be that way. We expect our political leaders to stand up and do the right thing.”
More than a half-dozen identical lawsuits were filed this week in state courts by a handful of losing Republican candidates and others, all alleging “irregularities” and “abuses of power” in races won by Democrats, without offering specific evidence. Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan also alleged abnormalities in state election results, again without any substantiation.
A handful of prominent Republican officials in other states that have been under the postelection microscope have criticized Trump’s voter fraud rhetoric in recent days, saying it has impugned and endangered nonpartisan election officials. But his legal team has continued to press efforts, so far unsuccessfully, to throw out large batches of votes in states that went for Biden last month after backing Trump four years ago.
“The president ran a good race and did better than expected, but lost. Republicans down the ballot did better than we expected,” said Brehm, who is not a Trump fan but thought he pulled off a productive four years in office. “But the president’s behavior since the election has been off-the-charts horrible, and I don’t think it’s too much to expect our elected officials to state their opinion on this.”
Patrick Condon • 612-673-4413