Carper Statement on Republicans’ Repeated Efforts to Push Misinformation about the 2020 Election

Sen. Carper: “If our nation’s leaders don’t embrace the truth in our daily discourse, then we no longer have a democracy that will endure. Calling an election unfair does not make it so.”


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), released the following statement regarding Chairman Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) continued efforts to promote Russian disinformation and use official Senate time and resources to advance partisan objectives. 


“Mr. Chairman, President Lincoln once said, ‘If given the truth, [the people] can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.’ In the Navy, that’s what we call ‘the straight skinny.’ With all due respect, the American people have had the real facts regarding this election for some time now. The truth, the straight skinny, is staring us in the face. It may not be what President Trump and his supporters wanted, but Joe Biden and Kamala Harris received more votes than any other ticket in American history. That’s a success for our democracy and something that all of us should celebrate. A success made possible in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic thanks to ordinary citizens who volunteered as poll workers. Many of them risked their own health to oversee a fair count, while hundreds of thousands of postal workers worked tirelessly to deliver absentee ballots.


“The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency has called this election ‘the most secure in American history.’ And throughout this country, courts have flat out rejected claims of election irregularities. Conservative, Trump-appointed judges in state after state have dismissed the Trump campaign’s claims, calling them ‘baseless’ and worse. Let me cite just a few examples. In response to a legal challenge from the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania, a federal judge appointed by President Trump, and a longtime member of the conservative Federalist Society, wrote that ‘charges of unfairness are serious.  But calling an election unfair does not make it so.  Charges require specific allegations and then proof.  We have neither here.’ And one of the most strongly worded opinions came from a Wisconsin state justice, who served as president of a chapter of the Federalist Society and as chief legal counsel to former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. ‘Something far more fundamental than the winner of Wisconsin’s electoral votes is implicated in this case,’ he wrote, in declining to hear a case asking the court to overturn the election results. ‘At stake…is faith in our system of free and fair elections, a feature central to the enduring strength of our constitutional republic.’ To that, we should all say, ‘Amen!’


“We learned this week that arguments from the Trump legal teams thus far have been defeated 59 times out of 61 in state and federal courts, including 9-0 by the Supreme Court just last week. Those cases were not close calls. In suit after suit, across red and blue states, in opinions written by liberal and ultra conservative judges, the Trump campaign’s largely contrived allegations have been rejected. Four years after Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million votes, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won it by a whopping 7 million votes. And, they received 306 votes in the Electoral College, a margin described by candidate Trump in 2016 as a landslide. But what if the outcome is not as definitive four years from now? Or in eight years? Next time, with different judges on the bench, different candidates and a lot less integrity and courage from state and local officials, a defeated party might somehow be able to steal an election?  Think about that. It should scare the hell out of every one of us.


“Meanwhile, many of the President’s supporters across the country continue to spread misinformation and false allegations about the presidential election. The truth of the matter is that in a lot of states, many of the voters who voted for Joe Biden for president turned around and, on down ballot races, voted Republican in congressional races, state legislative races and more. In Delaware, we call that ticket splitting. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s as old as our democracy.


“What we say in this Committee – and in this body – matters.  If we continue to push what the courts have overwhelmingly called baseless claims of fraud, we not only risk permanent damage to our democracy, we also become complicit in threats and attacks against elections officials and ordinary citizens. In Georgia, nonpartisan election technicians have faced death threats for simply doing their jobs.  The Georgia Secretary of State and his family have received death threats. Mr. Krebs, a Trump appointee, has been bombarded with threats ever since an attorney for President Trump’s campaign said on national TV that Mr. Krebs should be quote “taken out at dawn and shot.”  And just this week, “credible threats of violence” closed the Michigan state capitol, and electors in Pennsylvania needed law enforcement escorts when they went to cast their votes. 


“This is not the America that our Founders dreamed of. This is shameful!  Enough already!  We have work to do to get America back on track, starting this week right here in this Capitol. All of us – Democrats and Republicans – need to do our jobs! And, that’s just the beginning. There are over 250 million Americans who need to vaccinated.  There are millions of businesses that need a helping hand to get back on their feet.  Tens of millions of students who need to be back in school getting an education.  Hundreds of thousands of hospital and nursing home workers who just need a break. But it’s going to be hard to move forward as a country with dispatch, or as a Congress, until we accept the clear results of this election and turn the page.     


“In 1787, delegates from 13 colonies convened in Philadelphia to debate the future of our country.  They disagreed on many things.  But they all agreed that they didn’t want a king.  In responding to arguments from the Trump legal team in Wisconsin, a member of the state Supreme Court there echoed these sentiments recently when she said to them, quote, ‘you want us to overturn this election so that your king can stay in power. And that is so un-American.’ And she was right!


“Mr. Chairman, when you became the leader of this Committee in 2015, you pledged to run this Committee, quote, ‘with a spirit of bipartisan teamwork, respect, integrity, and professionalism’ which has been our hallmark for years. Those words were reassuring to me, to our colleagues on this Committee and to the members of our staffs. A few years later, when you and I worked together to introduce and enact the bipartisan Presidential Transitions Improvement Act, you said that, quote, ‘[t]he peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next is one of the hallmarks of our democracy.’ Those are the kinds of words we hope and expect to hear from our leaders. Words that appeal to our better angels. Words that unite us, not divide us. Sadly, I fear that today’s hearing may not be truly reflective of those words. I hope I’m wrong. But if I’m not, today’s hearing could prove deeply disappointing to me and many of the 330 million people we serve across the nation. Let’s not disappoint them.


“As we began today’s hearings, Mr. Chairman, you asked our witnesses to stand and take an oath to tell the truth.  It’s only fair for all of us to hold ourselves to that same standard. If our nation’s leaders don’t embrace the truth in our daily discourse, then we no longer have a democracy that will endure. Calling an election unfair does not make it so. And spreading misinformation in this Committee or on any committee doesn’t just stay inside these four walls. I began my statement today with the words of Abraham Lincoln.  I want to conclude it with these words attributed to Thomas Jefferson: if the people know the truth, they won’t make a mistake. So, let’s tell them the truth.  Today.  Tomorrow and for generations to come. The truth will keep us free. It always has. It always will.”