Speed Reads

The Big Capitulation

No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise slammed for refusing to say 2020 election wasn't stolen

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the No. 2 House Republican, refused several times to say on Fox News Sunday that President Biden won the 2020 election, even while he didn't explicitly endorse former President Donald Trump's lie that the election was stolen. A "number of states" did not "follow their state-passed laws that govern the election for president," he told host Chris Wallace.

When Wallace asked again if a handful of small irregularities prevented him from saying the election wasn't "stolen," Scalise claimed "it's not just irregularities. It's states that did not follow the laws set which the Constitution says they're supposed to follow." 

In reality, "no election was stolen from Trump," The Associated Press clarifies. "Scalise on Sunday appeared to be referring to the legal argument, made in several lawsuits backed by Trump before and after last November's election, that the Constitution gives the power of election administration exclusively to state lawmakers," and that other state efforts to expand voting during the pandemic should be invalidated and those votes discarded. Those legal challenges failed.

"Perpetuating the Big Lie is an attack on the core of our constitutional republic," Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) chided Scalise.

On CNN, analyst John Avlon called Scalise's election comments "disgusting" and "pathetic," adding, "Scalise knows better and he's a coward for not being willing to say it." Fellow analyst Margaret Hoover explained that Scalise and "self-described Republican primary voters" have started "to use the term 'Constitution' and 'undermining the Constitution' as shorthand for 'something that was unfair to Donald Trump.'" 

And both of them had hard words for the broader GOP establishment's re-embrace of Trump. "Look, if trying to overturn an election isn't wrong, isn't disqualifying, nothing is," Avlon said. "And every single Iowa Republican who stood on the stage that night with Donald Trump is complicit" in "an effort to overturn an election and to have the cancer metastasize inside the Republican Party."

At Saturday's Iowa rally, "Trump spent almost 30 minutes arguing falsely that he had won Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania," AP reports. "Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds stood by and welcomed his return to their state." They gave Trump "a wonderful gift," heading in 2024, Politico adds. "The presence of Grassley in particular signified that whatever qualms the GOP may have had with Trump are now faded memories; whatever questions they had about the direction of the party have been resolved."