Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman said that the chaos of the post-election period has been orchestrated by the Republican Party, but dismissed the notion that anything will stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
The Republican Party “put a Grubhub order in for chaos, and that’s exactly what they got delivered,” Fetterman, a Democrat, said in a Monday interview with Yahoo News.
He blamed Republicans in the Pennsylvania Legislature for refusing to give election officials any time before Election Day to “pre-canvass” mail ballots, which would have meant they could open the outer envelope, check for signatures and prepare the ballots for counting. That would have eliminated the three days of counting after the Nov. 3 election that took place in Pennsylvania, and in Michigan as well.
“All of this would have been avoided,” Fetterman said. But he rejected the notion that there was ever a chance that the legislature might try to choose Electoral College representatives who would reelect President Trump, overturning the results of the Pennsylvania popular vote. Biden defeated Trump by more than 80,000 votes in the Keystone State, compared with Trump’s win in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton, which was by around 44,000 votes.
Fetterman, who was elected in 2018 after serving 13 years as a mayor in the Pittsburgh suburbs, has always been a unique political figure. He’s 6-foot-8, bald and goateed, and heavily tattooed. He drew national attention even as mayor of Braddock, Pa., but has become a regular on cable TV this fall as he has knocked down disinformation from Trump about the election.
Pennsylvania was set to certify its election results on Monday, but a few counties in the state were behind in their process and there was a possibility that their tardiness might delay it for a few days. Certification simply means that the popular vote’s count in the state has been given a legal and procedural stamp of approval, and is a key step toward nominating the members of the Electoral College.
In Michigan, where Biden won by over 150,000 votes, results were certified on Monday, after days of uncertainty over whether the state Board of Canvassers would follow the law.
Fetterman said the Pennsylvania GOP, which controls the state legislature, was never serious about pre-canvassing. It did propose a bill in the state House that would have provided three weeks of pre-canvassing, but then shrank that to three days, and included a number of provisions that were “poison pills” for the Democrats, such as the elimination of drop boxes and limited early voting sites.
A host of election experts from all political points of view echoed the request from Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar that election officials be allowed to pre-canvass mail ballots before Election Day, but Republicans “never would allow it,” Fetterman said.
“You knew it wasn’t going to ever happen. Ever. You just knew it. And it’s like, OK, this is what you wanted. So here’s what you’re going to get,” he said. “It worked as far as, you know, their plans where they wanted to create this delay, but it doesn’t change the outcome at all.”
But Fetterman blasted the plausibility of an article that the Atlantic magazine published in late September, in which Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman was quoted as saying the state legislature, controlled by Republicans, was considering overturning the results of the election by using the pretext of made-up claims of fraud and cheating.
“That was ridiculous. It couldn’t work. It never was a thing,” he said. “These daily Twitter freak-outs aren’t helpful. … Everyone is addicted to this rush of, like, ‘Oh, my God, what if they do this?’”
In fact, Fetterman said, the legislature wouldn’t be able to take any legislative action after Nov. 30, when current terms expire, unless it certified the election results of Nov. 3.
Fetterman put in a good word for Corman, who distanced himself from the notion of a legislative reversal of the election in the days after the Atlantic article was published. “Jake Corman, he and I disagree on issues politically, but Jake Corman is not a bad guy,” Fetterman said. “There’s a very real thing that he has to pander to … this extremist side of the party, and you have to slow-roll the walk to the inevitable conclusion too. I don’t hold that against somebody, because it’s real: the backlash.”
And Fetterman said he did not think Republicans actually wanted to overturn or steal the election. He believes they knew Trump was going to lose, “and the chaos was just their insurance policy to spin an outcome that they knew or very strongly suspected.”
The biggest problem going forward, he said, is that Trump has inaugurated “a post-truth election reality, where it doesn’t matter what the truth is.”
“When you have the president arguing that there was mass voter fraud in the absence of any evidence whatsoever — I mean, literally zero — what’s to stop anyone from saying so-and-so’s a so-and-so?” he said.
“We and the media need to turn its back on it,” he said. “That’s not protected speech. That is not news. That is yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is none. And that is destructive. That is purposely damaging.”
The Trump campaign and its legal allies have filed over 30 lawsuits, and only two have had any success, affecting a small number of ballots.
“Realistically speaking, the legal battle over the 2020 election is over,” Andrew McCarthy wrote last week in National Review, the well-known conservative publication.
That was one day before attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell held a bizarre press conference at the Republican National Committee, where they rehashed complaints from court cases that had already been dismissed as specious, and brought up baseless conspiracy theories about voting machines.
“They argue by innuendo and bizarre conspiracy theories. And that’s why they just keep getting demolished, because it’s not really even a court case,” Fetterman said. “It’s just a bad comedy sketch, really, when you get right down to it.”
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