At hearing on Arizona 'audit,' GOP congressman refuses to say Biden won election
During a House hearing Thursday on the recent "audit" of the 2020 election results in Arizona conducted by supporters of former President Donald Trump, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., sparred with Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who refused to accept its results showing that Joe Biden won the state.
"Who won the election in Arizona: Donald Trump or Joe Biden?" Raskin asked Biggs at the beginning of the hearing, which was convened by the House Oversight Committee.
"We don't know. There are a lot of issues with this election that took place," Biggs replied. The two-term Republican congressman was reelected last year to represent the state's Fifth District in the same election whose results he has been questioning.
The "audit" of populous Maricopa County was done at the behest of the Arizona state Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, and conducted and funded by pro-Trump organizations. It showed Biden won by 45,469 votes — a wider margin than the official result, which was 45,109.
"There's the problem," Raskin said. "Donald Trump refused to accept the results, and unfortunately we have one of the world's great political parties which has followed him off of the ledge of this electoral lunacy, and it's dangerous for democracy."
The CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the company that conducted the partisan audit, declined to appear at the hearing to testify despite being invited. Before Doug Logan and his company were hired in Arizona, he pushed unfounded claims of fraud in the 2020 election and was working with Trump’s allies to overturn the election results as early as last November.
At the same hearing, two Maricopa County GOP election officials, who oversaw and accepted the results, testified about the threats they and their families have received from Trump supporters for refusing to say the election was stolen.
Jack Sellers, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said he has had police parked in front of his house on many nights because of specific threats against him.
The board's vice chairman, Bill Gates, said his family has been the target of numerous death threats.
"I have three daughters," Gates said. "We have been subjected to many threats over the past few months. We have been doxxed. ... We've had phone calls into the Board of Supervisors saying people were going to come slaughter us and our families."
Gates later added that he believed that a "lot of the people" who led the audit were not focused on "restoring confidence and instead, I think, it was more on raising doubts, and I think we're seeing that again today, quite frankly."
While the Trump campaign was contesting the results, both Sellers and Gates received phone messages on Christmas Eve from Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, who suggested that they help in the effort because they were all Republicans.
"I'd like to see if there's a way that we could resolve this so it comes out well for everyone," Giuliani said in a voicemail to Sellers, which was played at the hearing. "We're all Republicans. I think we all have the same goal."
Republicans on the committee spent much of the hearing speculating that other aspects of the election, including mail ballots to potentially hacked voting machines, called the results into question. They also cited the millions of Americans who mistrust the 2020 election results, fueled by Trump and his allies hammering baseless claims of fraud.
Polls show that most Republicans believe Trump's claims about the 2020 election, despite an absence of evidence. An August Yahoo News/YouGov survey found that 66 percent of Republicans continue to insist that "the election was rigged and stolen from Trump," while just 18 percent believe "Joe Biden won fair and square."
The conspiracy theory about the 2020 election being stolen has had real-world consequences, starting with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which resulted in multiple deaths and Trump's impeachment. Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states have passed restrictions since last November that make it more difficult to vote, arguing that such policy changes are necessary to restore faith in elections. A number of Republicans who have stated they believe the election was stolen are now running for the top election offices in their states, raising concern about what could happen if there is another close race in 2024.
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