Cline, Griffith, and Wittman Have Become Enemies of Democracy
As the Trump Administration careens toward its ignominious end, history is taking note of those who were prepared to surrender their self-respect and their commitment to democracy to the personal whim of the president.
One-hundred twenty-six Republican members of the House of Representatives did just that by signing an amicus brief for a lawsuit to wipe out the votes of millions of their fellow Americans. Sadly, three Virginians were among them: Ben Cline, Morgan Griffith, and Rob Wittman.
The lawsuit has been filed by Texas Attorney General Ben Paxton. It seeks to invalidate the presidential votes of four states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia), because … because they didn’t go the way they did in 2016.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s one of Paxton’s “experts” from his own statement.
I reject the hypothesis that the Biden and Clinton votes are similar with great confidence many times greater than one in a quadrillion in all four states. Similarly, I reject the hypothesis that the Biden and Clinton percentage of the two leading candidates’ votes are similar with confidence exceeding one in a quadrillion.
I’m not kidding; this expert asserts that there must be fraud in all four states because the Biden and Clinton voters aren’t the same.
Furthermore, he assumes that votes counted after 3AM on the morning after election night should show the same voting pattern. Never mind that mail-in/absentee votes were counted after Election Day voting, and that Trump demanded his voters vote on E-Day while the Democrats focused on absentee voting due to COVID. Never mind that large cities and suburbs usually take longer to count than rural areas.
The expert dismisses all that by claiming, “I am not aware of any actual data supporting that either of these events occurred.”
He actually wrote that …
… and on this slender reed, Attorney General Paxton is insisting that electoral votes in four states “cannot be counted.”
How ridiculous and dangerous is this lawsuit? Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune notes that Paxton’s Solicitor General – the fellow who is supposed to argue cases in front of the Supreme Court – did not put his signature on it.
Paxton’s suit raised other questions. It didn’t include the signature of Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins, the Paxton assistant whose job it is to argue cases before the Supreme Court. Paxton signed it, as did his new first assistant attorney general, Brent Webster.
Ramsey also hints at why Paxton is really pushing this nonsense.
Webster got that job after a group of Paxton’s top deputies blew the whistle on the attorney general, accusing him of bribery and of abuse of office in his dealings with a real estate investor and campaign contributor named Nate Paul. They made those allegations in a letter to the agency, and to federal and state law enforcement. Each of those agency executives subsequently quit, was put on leave or was fired, and four of them have filed a lawsuit alleging they were punished in retribution for ratting out their boss.
The FBI is investigating those allegations, according to the Associated Press, and that tidbit is fueling rumors that the attorney general wants to please the president, who has a few weeks of pardoning power left.
Or, if Paxton’s long shot succeeds, four more years.
George Conway III, a lawyer whose Republican credentials were so good that he was offered a position in the Trump DOJ, also weighed in.
That any member of any bar, let alone a member of the Supreme Court bar, could file such flimsy tripe in any court, let alone the Supreme Court, is an embarrassment to the legal profession. For public officials such as Paxton and his fellow Republican attorneys general to call for the wholesale disenfranchisement of the people of four states is an affront to the rule of law, an insult to an independent judiciary and a contempt of democracy.
As he noted, over a hundred Republican Congressmen “joined the follies,” revealing their own contempt for democracy in the process.
Wittman is another matter.
There was a time when Wittman had the courage to stand up to a president of his own party, to his own party’s nominee, and to his own House leadership to oppose the 2008 bank bailout. Sadly, the courage he displayed before his first full term has vanished as he winds up his sixth.
The 126 who made mockeries of their oaths are the majority of House Republicans. This is the Republican Party now. It is a danger to America. It is a danger to democracy. Its post-electoral proponents, by demanding votes be set aside, are enemies of democracy …
… and that includes Cline, Griffith, and Rob Wittman.
Note: After this piece was first published, it was revealed that Morgan Griffith had also signed on, but was inadvertently left off the initial list of signatories. The piece has been updated to include him as the enemy of democracy that he has become.