Rioters walk as U.S. Capitol Police officers watch in a hallway near the Senate chamber at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. A court filing against Jacob Chansley, seen here wearing face paint and fur, states the mob wanted to "capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States Government."
President Donald Trump’s election-fraud lie caused many of his supporters to believe incorrectly that the election had been stolen, and it led to an assault on the U.S. Capitol, an attack that also targeted the country’s electoral process and the U.S. government itself.
WITF believes elected officials who supported the election-fraud lie through their actions should be held accountable, and we believe consistently presenting the facts that reveal the lie will play a part in diminishing its power over those who believed and supported it.
“(name), who voted against certifying Pennsylvania’s election results for President Biden despite no evidence to support election-fraud claims…”
“(name), who signed a letter asking members of Congress to delay certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral votes despite no evidence that would call those results into question…”
“(name), who supported Donald Trump’s 2020 election-fraud lie by signing a letter urging members of Congress to object to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes going to Joe Biden…”
When using this language, we’ll consider new information — for example, if a lawmaker acknowledges that no widespread fraud was found that would have affected the 2020 presidential election results. Each story will include a note about why we’re using the language, which we developed in consultation with Lynn Walsh at the Trusting News project and with NPR’s public editor Kelly McBride.
Note: Pennsylvania state House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff and Speaker Bryan Cutler filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the Texas lawsuit.
State lawmakers who signed letters to Congress opposing Jan. 6 electoral vote certification
The House letter asked Congress to object to certification. The Senate letter, dated Jan. 4, asked Congress to delay certification because, it said incorrectly, SCOTUS “is to hear Trump v. Boockvar in the coming days.” On Jan. 11 SCOTUS refused to fast-track the case.
The lawmakers who signed are:
Jake Corman, Senate president pro tem, 34th District
Kim Ward, Senate majority leader, 39th District
Sen. Judy Ward, 30th District
Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, 28th District
Sen. Mike Regan, 31st District
Sen. David Argall, 29th District
Sen. Ryan Aument, 36th District
Sen. Doug Mastriano, 33rd District
Sen. Joe Pittman, 41st District
Sen. Pat Stefano, 32nd District
Sen. Camera Bartolotta, 46th District
Sen. Gene Yaw, 23rd District
Sen. Bob Mensch, 24th District
Sen. Michele Brooks, 50th District
Sen. Scott Hutchinson, 21st District
Sen. Wayne Langerholc, 35th District
Sen. Mario Scavello, 40th District
Sen. Scott Martin, 13th District
Sen. Devlin Robinson, 37th District
Rep. Bryan Cutler, speaker of the House, 100th District
Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, House majority leader, 171st District
Rep. Seth Grove, 196th District
Rep. Kate Klunk, 169th District
Rep. Torren Ecker, 193rd District
Rep. Frank Ryan, 101st District
Rep. Dan Moul, 91st District
Rep. Dawn Keefer, 92nd District
Rep. Mike Jones, 93rd District
Rep. Greg Rothman, 87th District
Rep. Barbara Gleim, 199th District
Rep. Perry Stambaugh, (rep.-elect at the time), 86th District
Rep. Jim Cox, 129th District
Rep. Bud Cook, 49th District
Rep. Tina Pickett, 110th District
Rep. David Rowe, 85th District
Rep. Clint Owlett, 68th District
Rep. Ryan Warner, 52nd District
Rep. Aaron Bernstine, 10th District
Rep. Eric Nelson, 57th District
Rep. Kathy Rapp, 65th District
Rep. Doyle Heffley, 122nd District
Rep. Lou Schmitt, 79th District
Rep. David Maloney, 130th District
Rep. Mark Gillen, 128th District
Rep. Craig Staats, 145th District
Rep. Mindy Fee, 37th District
Rep. Jesse Topper, 78th District
Rep. Eric Davanzo, 58th District
Rep. Paul Schemel, 90th District
Rep. Cris Dush, 25th District
Rep. John Hershey, 82nd District
Rep. David Millard, 109th District
Rep. Brad Roae, 6th District
Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, 134th District
Rep. Marci Mustello, 11th District
Rep. Lee James, 64th District
Rep. Matt Dowling, 51st District
Rep. George Dunbar, 56th District
Rep. Jonathan Fritz, 111th District
Rep. Rich Irvin, 81st District
Rep. Martin Causer, 67th District
Rep. Jeff Wheeland, 83rd District
Rep. Tim Hennessey, 26th District
Rep. David Hickernell, 98th District
Rep. Brett Miller, 41st District
Rep. Keith Greiner, 43rd District
Rep. Thomas Sankey, 73rd District
Rep. Donna Oberlander, 63rd District
Rep. Curt Sonney, 4th District
Rep. Mike Reese, 59th District
Rep. Martina White, 170th District
Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar, 69th District
Rep. James Gregory, 80th District
Rep. Michael Peifer, 139th District
Rep. Steven Mentzer, 97th District
Rep. Rob Kauffman, 89th District
Why are we doing this now, when Democrats raised objections to electoral college votes in previous years?
First, the facts:
In 2005, a group of House Democrats objected to the counting of Ohio’s electoral votes. Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer joined the objection, prompting debate in both chambers. The Democrats alleged “widespread irregularities” in Ohio’s election, which President George W. Bush won by 118,000 votes. Republicans cited reports by journalists showing the claims to be untrue. The objections were voted down 267-31 by the House and 74-1 by the Senate. Losing presidential candidate John Kerry did not participate in the protest. Those who objected said their intent was not to overturn the result of the election, although had the challenge succeeded, it would have done so. (Source: CNN)
In 2017, more than a half-dozen Democrats raised objections during the certification vote. No senators joined, so the objections went nowhere and Congress certified Donald Trump as president. (Source: NPR)
Around the same time, Trump began calling for election results to be final the night of the election, and if results weren’t known that night, it would indicate election fraud. That was false. Ballot-counting always continues past election night, and, because of the anticipated increase in vote-by-mail, elections offices across the country told the public that counting all the votes would take some time.
Trump’s election-fraud lie received support from the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania state House, including a request that a committee audit the 2020 election to ensure “the accuracy of the results” — even though no evidence had been presented to suggest results were not accurate.
On Nov. 20, Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), held a news conference saying he wanted Dominion Voting Services to answer “accusations” about their machines, which were used in 14 Pennsylvania counties. Trump and his supporters had accused Dominion of being part of an international conspiracy and claimed its machines had flipped Trump votes to Biden votes. But Trump won 12 of the 14 counties that used Dominion machines. And the federal Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency said the election was the “most secure in American history,” adding, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
On Nov. 25 in Gettysburg, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) led a meeting of the state Senate Majority Policy Committee that gave Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani a platform to spread disinformation about the 2020 election. Trump called in to the meeting and, via a cell phone held up to a microphone, repeated the election-fraud lie to the crowd, saying, “This election was rigged, and we can’t let that happen.”
On Dec. 4, Pennsylvania Republican House members sent a letter asking the state’s congressional delegation to dispute Pennsylvania’s legal and certified election results.
On Dec. 28, 17 Pennsylvania House members released an analysis they said showed a discrepancy between the number of votes counted and the number of people who voted, and they said that means Pennsylvania’s election results were certified “in error.” But they had made a mistake: They used the wrong numbers for their analysis, the Department of State said, so their analysis was wrong.
Trump’s election-fraud lie received support from Pennsylvania’s congressional representatives, including Rep. Scott Perry (R-York), who retweeted the incorrect state House-member analysis, saying it called into question the integrity of Pennsylvania’s election.
On Jan. 4, Pennsylvania Senate Republican leaders, joined by all but seven members of the GOP caucus, signed a letter asking Congress to delay certification of Biden’s win, scheduled to take place in two days.
We’ve been asked by Trump supporters why we didn’t do the same accountability effort for the politicians who engaged in support of the “Russia hoax.” Here’s why
As the following facts make clear, these are not comparable events. The Russia investigation was not a hoax; it was legitimate. And, WITF is not holding Republicans accountable for what they said at any time about the election-fraud lie; we’re holding them accountable for what they did — concrete actions that bolstered the lie and the attempt to overturn the election. The election-fraud lie led to the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
‘Russia hoax’ is the phrase Donald Trump and his allies used repeatedly as he criticized the existence of the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
There has been no evidence to back Trump’s claims of election fraud or a rigged election.
In the case of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, however, special counsel Robert Mueller wrote in July 2020, “By late 2016, the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate. … Russian efforts to interfere in our political system, and the essential question of whether those efforts involved the Trump campaign, required investigation.”
Part of that investigation included whether Trump and/or his campaign intentionally worked with the Russian government or its agents to help win the U.S. presidential election.
“The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” and did so to help Donald Trump get elected.
There were “… numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign,” but the investigation reported “the evidence was not sufficient to charge that any member of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with representatives of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.”
There were instances in which Trump’s actions during the investigation met all criteria that would enable a criminal charge of obstruction of justice to be filed. However, the special counsel did not charge Trump, instead following DOJ guidance that a sitting president cannot face criminal charges. The report specifically says that it does not exonerate Trump of potential obstruction of justice.