Senior Republican leader Steve Scalise refuses to admit the 2020 election wasn't 'stolen' from Trump

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Eliza Relman
·3 min read
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President Donald Trump greets Rep Steve Scalise(L) R-LA upon arrival at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Kenner, Louisiana on January 14, 2019.
President Donald Trump greets Rep Steve Scalise(L) R-LA upon arrival at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Kenner, Louisiana on January 14, 2019. MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images
  • House Minority Whip Steve Scalise refused to say that the election was not "stolen" from Trump.

  • Scalise conceded that Biden is the "legitimate" president.

  • But he baselessly claimed that some key states violated the law in administering the election.

  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the third highest-ranking Republican, on Sunday refused to admit that the 2020 election wasn't "stolen" from former President Donald Trump.

Repeatedly pressed on the issue, the Louisiana lawmaker attempted to have it both ways by eventually conceding that President Joe Biden is a "legitimate" president, but baselessly insisting that a few key states violated the law in their election administration.

Trump and his allies have failed to provide any evidence to support their false claims of widespread voter fraud. In dozens of unsuccessful lawsuits, Republicans have made unsubstantiated claims of double-voting, voting by non-citizens, and votes cast on behalf of dead people - all of which have been rejected by the courts. Trump's own attorney general, William Barr, announced in December that the government had not found any evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 elections.

"Clear this up for me," ABC News host Jonathan Karl said to Scalise. "Joe Biden won the election. He is the legitimate president of the United States. The election was not stolen, correct?"

"Look, Joe Biden's the president," Scalise replied. "There were a few states that did not follow their state laws. That's really the dispute that you've seen continue on."

Many Republicans, Scalise included, continue to claim that Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin - four swing states Trump lost - implemented illegal election procedure changes. These tweaks were designed to make voting safer during the COVID-19 pandemic, but GOP lawmakers allege that they allowed for widespread voter fraud.

State officials have repeatedly rejected these claims and condemned the politicians making them, and the Supreme Court threw out a related lawsuit brought by the Texas attorney general. Republicans had lost 59 of 60 lawsuits they brought by January 6, the date that Congress convened to certify the election results and a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in an insurrection inspired by the president.

When Karl pressed Scalise to concede that Biden is "the legitimate president of the United States," Scalise agreed that "once the electors were counted," Biden became the legitimate president. But he again refused to say the election wasn't stolen.

"Once the electors are counted, yes, he's the legitimate president," Scalise said. "But if you're going to ignore the fact that there were states that did not follow their own … laws, that's the issue at heart, that millions of people still are not happy with and don't want to see happen again."

Scalise's comments come just a week before Trump is scheduled to take the stage at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and will reportedly reassert himself as the leader of the Republican party. Scalise said he recently met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago during a fundraising trip to Florida.

Scalise's office didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider