Four members of the Arizona congressional delegation including Rep. Paul Gosar voted to set aside the results of the state’s presidential election until the state can perform a forensic audit of the election.
The House and Senate rejected that notion on an overwhelming, bipartisan vote.
Gosar – who represents Rim Country – and representatives Andy Biggs, Debbie Lesko and David Schweikert all voted to set aside the election results in the midst of a tumultuous day that saw the capital building occupied by pro-Trump demonstrators, the shooting death of one protestor and unprecedented scenes of rioting within the capitol building itself.
Rep. Tom O’Halleran – who represents the White Mountains — voted against the effort to not approve the state-certified electors. During the occupation of the building, staff members tweeted that O’Halleran was safe. A former police officer, O’Halleran and the rest of the House and Senate were hustled out of the chambers and given gas masks.
President Donald Trump addressed a crowd of supporters and urged them to march on the capitol building just an hour before the start of the joint session called to certify the election results.
Hundreds of rioters took over the capital building, the first such takeover since the War of 1812. A dozen police officers were injured and two hospitalized. A capitol police officer shot and killed one woman – an Air Force veteran and adherent to the QAnon conspiracy theory that claims President Trump is confronting a shadowy group of Democratic pedophiles. Two or three other people reportedly died as a result of medical issues during the protests.
The House and Senate recessed as protestors stormed the building and lawmakers took shelter until police cleared the building. They returned hours later and certified the election results. Some 147 Republican lawmakers voted against accepting the state-certified election results, including seven Senators.
Gosar later urged supporters to avoid violence. He also blamed the riots and violence on Democrats for stealing the election and suggested that the rioters were actually anti-fascist Antifa supporters posing as Trump supporters.
“Leftist violence – or any violence – will not deter our mission for truth and transparency. The people need and deserve the truth,” he tweeted.
Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward posted a video on Thursday also suggesting that left-wing infiltrators caused the violence, although she offered no evidence to support the claim.
On the other hand, newly elected Sen. Mark Kelly in a tweet said, “In America, we have fair elections and peaceful transfers of power; democracy prevails over chaos; and those who commit violent acts are held accountable. That won’t change today. This unpatriotic attempt to overturn our election – and silence the voices of Arizonans – will prevail.”
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey issued a statement saying, “in America, we practice peaceful transitions of power. We respect the law and law enforcement. The scene at the United States Capitol right now is wrong and has no place in our form of government. All should denounce, and it should end now.”
Gosar and his fellow Arizona Republicans in the House and Senate insisted the election was marred by widespread fraud, despite recounts, audits and repeated rulings by both state and federal judges.
However, the Arizona election results were certified by elections departments in each county and then by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
Judges in Arizona had quickly dismissed six different Republican Party lawsuits in Arizona disputing President Elect Joe Biden’s 10,457-vote victory in the state. After hearing two days of testimony in one of the final appeals, Judge Randall Warner concluded he’d found “no misconduct, no fraud and no effect on the outcome of the election.” The state supreme court upheld the lower court rulings.
Nonetheless, Gosar and other Arizona Republicans cited repeatedly debunked claims of election fraud in their objections to the ballot certifications.
For instance, Gosar insisted without evidence that 30,000 illegal aliens voted in Arizona “using federal ballots.” This was an apparent reference to the process for confirming whether someone born outside the US has obtained US citizenship, which makes them eligible to vote. County registrars confirm the registration of people who check a box saying they were born outside the country with a federal database. Elections officials say actual cases in which non-citizens vote illegally are extremely rare.
Rep. Andy Biggs said the Presidential election results in Arizona should be set aside because of a series of court rulings on a state effort to extend the registration deadline, in light of the problems caused by the pandemic. Some 32,000 people statewide registered during the court-approved extension. Biggs maintained this violates a constitutional provision giving state legislators control over election procedures, calling it a “judicial usurpation” that invalidated the President election – but apparently not any other election results in a state where Republicans held onto their control of half the congressional seats and both houses of the state legislature.
“Federal courts went around the legislature and allowed 32,000 people to illegally cast ballots,” argued Biggs.
Gosar challenged Vice President Mike Pence to set aside the presidential election results in the disputed states, pending an investigation into the allegations of fraud that have been rejected in more than 60 lawsuits, which went all the way to the US Supreme Court.
“Are you a ceremonial figurehead or do you envision a role in which you have discretion?” Gosar asked Pence. “If you are ceremonial, let’s be done with it. Serve the tea and crumpets. If you are not ceremonial – then do not accept Arizona’s results until a full, complete electoral forensic audit is allowed by the state.”
Otherwise, said Gosar after a day of riots and violence, “we find ourselves lawless, destroying the very thread that ties us together.”
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