Republicans in Minnesota’s Congressional delegation have taken to Twitter to decry the violence by supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump at the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, the day they joined their colleagues in certifying the electoral vote count in what has already been a grueling post-election season.
"I support the democratic process that I have the privilege of engaging in today," tweeted Tom Emmer, Minnesota’s Sixth District representative and head of the Republican National Congressional Committee. "However, any violence against law enforcement goes completely counter to this process, and the rule of law that our police are sworn to protect."
"Respectful disagreement is fundamental to our democracy,” tweeted Michelle Fischbach, Minnesota’s newly elected Seventh District representative, adding “the violence that we're seeing, especially toward law enforcement, is unacceptable."
Fischbach would later join other Republican Congressional members – including Minnesota First District Congressman Jim Hagedorn - in voting against the certification of elector votes in several states.
Closer to home in St. Paul, pro-Trump demonstrations were peaceful, but back in D.C., protesters breached Capitol security for the first time since 1814, the last time the Capitol was besieged.
Congress reconvened later that evening to finish the certification, working through the night to finalize the tally early Thursday morning: 306 electoral votes for Democrat Joe Biden, 232 for Donald Trump, the Associated Press reported.
More than 150 GOP lawmakers went into Wednesday’s session vowing to challenge the electoral vote counts of a number of swing states.
The House and Senate handily rejected challenges made to the counts from Arizona and Pennsylvania; objections to the counts from Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin also failed.
Fischbach had told the AP early on Wednesday that she would support the challenges while Stauber said he would not, saying that overturning the results would be an “overstep” of congressional authority while at the same time standing firm in his belief that election integrity was compromised.
“I have serious concerns over election integrity and the significant, widespread abuses in our electoral system that have gone unchecked in many states and cities for decades,” he said. “However, our Constitution permits only a limited role for Congress in the presidential election process [...] “Overturning the results of the Electoral College would be an overstep of Congress’ limited role and would revoke power from where it should be derived—you, the people.” To do so, he said, could “set a dangerous precedent.”
Emmer, along with Stauber and Hagedorn, were among the 126 House Republicans last month who signed onto an amicus brief in support of a Texas lawsuit that challenged the electoral votes of four swing states. Fischbach did not sign the brief.
The lawsuit, filed early in December by Texas attorney general Ken Paxton and backed by 17 other Republican-led states, was perceived by many to have been the GOP’s hail Mary in flipping 62 of Biden’s electoral votes—and the 2020 presidential election—in Trump’s favor after lesser courts had rejected other legal attempts made in the same vein.
The United States Supreme Court refused to hear the case, determining in a brief order Dec. 11 that Texas had “not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.” Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas stated in that order that they would have chosen to “grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief,”i.e. they would not have set aside the 62 votes in question, pending the lawsuit’s resolution.
For the signatories of the amicus brief it came down to what they had perceived as the “constitutional authority of state legislatures as the only bodies duly authorized to establish the manner by which presidential electors are appointed” and the “constitutional role of state legislatures in determining the manner by which states choose their electors.” So reads the opening section.
The brief cited relevant statutes the signatories believed supported allegations made in Paxton’s lawsuit and addressed “unconstitutional irregularities,” of the 2020 election, including “unmanned absentee ballot drop-off sites” in Wisconsin, waivers of signature requirements in Michigan and Pennsylvania and early processing of mail-in ballots in Georgia.
“This amicus brief was not an attempt to overturn the results of this election,” said Kelsey Mix, communications director for Stauber. “This amicus brief was about defending the Constitution and holding state election officials accountable for overstepping the bounds of their roles.”
Those who signed the brief, said Stauber’s representative, were “simply presenting facts for the court to consider.”
Stauber could not be reached directly to comment for this article. His communications director said that the congressman had heard in the month following the election from a number of constituents who had said they were concerned about the integrity of the election and that he “believes that the American people—no matter who they voted for—deserve to have confidence in the electoral process.”
Hagedorn had given similar reasons for throwing his support behind Paxton, saying in a Dec. 11 press release, posted to his website just prior to SCOTUS’ rejection of the Paxton suit, that the high Court should consider the case “on constitutional grounds” and “to ensure that all U.S. citizens are treated fairly and the election was conducted in accordance with state laws.”
“Election laws across several states were amended or suspended in the closing months of the 2020 election by acts of state officials and courts, not state legislatures,” said Hagedorn.
Neither Emmer nor his media team responded to multiple requests for comment, but a statement made by the congressman and quoted in a Dec. 11 Star Tribune article had Emmer saying that the amicus brief "asserts the democratic right of state legislatures to make appointments to the Electoral College was violated in several states” and that “all legal votes should be counted and the process should be followed—the integrity of current and future elections depends on this premise and this suit is a part of that process.”
Only Hagedorn and Fischbach of Minnesota’s delegation backed any of the electoral challenges.
“The Constitutional and legal processes have played out, and it is now time to move on,” said Mix, who also confirmed that Stauber intends to attend the Jan. 20 inauguration of Biden as president.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.