Two Republicans in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation objected to certifying electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden Wednesday night after a violent mob of President Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building.
Reps. Tom Tiffany and Scott Fitzgerald were among 121 House Republicans who voted to object certifying Biden’s electors from Arizona and 138 House Republicans who voted to object certifying the outcome in Pennsylvania.
The votes came hours after Trump supporters began an insurrection at the Capitol, leading some Republican members of Congress, including Sen. Ron Johnson, to change course after initially saying they would object.
Although Johnson did not vote to overturn the electors, he was one of eight senators who signed an objection to Arizona’s electors, which began debate before lawmakers evacuated the chambers.
Both Tiffany and Fitzgerald issued statements condemning the violence Wednesday, but neither spoke during the debate, according to WPR.
All other members of Wisconsin’s delegation voted to uphold the electors, including Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin and three Democratic and three Republican House members.
Vice President Mike Pence certified the results of the 2020 Electoral College vote early Thursday morning, confirming Biden’s win. Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.
Johnson changes course after siege
Johnson later released the speech that he intended to deliver on the Senate floor before “lawless protestors” entered the Capitol. The speech includes claims of voter fraud that lack evidence.
“I refuse to dismiss the legitimate concerns of tens of millions of Americans who have lost faith in our institutions and the fairness of our electoral process. Those who have lost confidence are not crazy. They are patriots who dearly love America and are alarmed by what they have witnessed over the last four years,” part of his speech reads.
On Monday, the editor of conservative website Right Wisconsin published a column comparing Johnson to former Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
The incoming Democratic majority in the Senate will remove Johnson from his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee, which held hearings that elevated Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud.
Johnson told the AP on Thursday that he has not yet made a decision on whether he will seek a third term, run for governor or retire. Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, a Democrat, has announced he will run for the seat in 2022. Several other Democrats are thought to be eyeing the seat, and other Republicans are also considering running for governor or Johnson’s seat.
State leaders condemn violence
Lawmakers in Wisconsin quickly released statements condemning the violence in Washington, and a group of state Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Pence Thursday, asking him to invoke the 25th Amendment.
On Wednesday, Gov. Tony Evers called for “swift, bipartisan condemnation” of the violence by elected officials and the president.
“The peaceful transfer of power is at the very heart of our government and our country. This is an attack on our democracy. Period,” Evers said.
Trump called for law and order in an afternoon video statement while also telling the mob, “We love you. You’re very special.” The video, which falsely repeated that the election was stolen, was later removed from social media platforms.
Wisconsin Democrats also responded to the violence, including Rep. Francesca Hong, D-Madison.
“Domestic terrorists have attempted a coup on our most sacred chambers in support of a fascist president,” Hong said in a statement. “We are a country that should aspire to treat those fighting for Black lives with as much grace as that allotted to these treasonous white supremacist mobs.”
Members of Wisconsin’s Senate Republican caucus issued a joint statement condemning violence “in the strongest possible terms,” calling it “unacceptable and un-American.” Incoming Majority Leader Devin LaMahieu, R-Oostburg, and Senate President Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, both signed the statement.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul called for Congress to begin removing Trump from office after it certified the results of the election.
“It’s difficult to believe what we’re seeing take place at the U.S. Capitol: a fascist riot incited by a lame-duck President desperately and illegitimately trying to cling to power based on absurd lies about the election that amount to voter fraud McCarthyism,” Kaul said in a statement Wednesday.
As of Thursday afternoon, at least three Democrats in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation support invoking the 25th Amendment or impeaching Trump, according to Molly Beck from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That includes Baldwin and Reps. Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore, who represent the Madison and Milwaukee areas.
Sen. Melissa Agard, D-Madison, along with eight other senators and 23 representatives in the state legislature, signed a letter to Pence Thursday afternoon, saying, “We are calling on you to use your authority as Vice President to invoke the 25th Amendment immediately to ensure a peaceful transition of power and to save our nation. This action deems that the president is unfit to lead.”
Protesters also descended on a number of state capitols throughout Wednesday. A small number of Trump supporters protested at the statehouse in Madison in the morning but left by the evening, according to WISN 12 News. The Assembly was in session Thursday afternoon to take up COVID-19 legislation.
state news writer