“We’re Going To Grow Old Waiting” For GOP To Stand Up To Trump, Says Rep. Schiff
Mitt Romney has become one of the few voices of dissent in his party against President Trump's autocratic antics since Joe Biden won both the popular vote and the electoral college. Meanwhile, more foreign leaders have congratulated President-elect Biden than GOP senators at this point. Schiff addresses the latest in an interview with NowThis.
So far, most Republican members of Congress have been lining up behind President Donald Trump’s baseless claims contesting the election results — a sad threat to American democracy from one of the country’s two major political parties.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the congressmember who led the impeachment hearings last winter against Trump, isn’t surprised.
“I have to say after waiting for four years for many of my colleagues to find their conscience, to demonstrate their devotion to country, I’m not surprised,” Schiff said in an interview with NowThis on November 6. “With this utter lack of commitment to democracy, this president has had a stranglehold on his party.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), the lone Senate Republican who voted to convict Trump along with 47 senators from the Democratic caucus, has once again become one of the few voices of dissent in his party against Trump since Joe Biden won both the popular vote and the electoral college. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), whose future as majority leader is now dependent on two key runoff races in Georgia that will take place in January, has taken the opposite view, also supporting Trump in his autocratic attempts.
Schiff continued: “I think my colleagues recognize that even when he is ushered out of the White House, he will continue to tweet at them, and the talking heads on Fox primetime will continue to berate them if the president so chooses. And so they remain silent, and they do so in the face of such flagrant dishonesty by the president of the United States. But we’re going to grow old, I think, waiting for these members of Congress to step up.”
Fox News, the president’s favorite network, has also called the election for Biden.
The New York Times reported on the contradictions inherent in such baseless claims from Trump and his allies. Of a speech McConnell gave on the Senate floor Monday, their reporters wrote that he “celebrated the success of Republicans who won election to the House and the Senate. But in the next breath, he treated the outcome of the presidential election — based on the same ballots that elected those Republicans — as unknown.”
Referring back to February when the GOP-led Senate acquitted Trump in his impeachment trial (which had no witnesses, per Republicans’ wishes), Schiff told NowThis, “It’s appalling, and tragic that maybe this last destructive chapter may have been avoided if senators had lived up to their oaths [in February].”
As Trump refuses to concede, Biden plans to lead
Biden is ready to move forward with enacting his agenda, including immediately addressing the COVID-19 pandemic — which is worsening in the U.S., with record high numbers of infections — as well as addressing the urgently needed economic recovery, the climate crisis, and issues of racial justice. The president-elect has been naming key transition advisers, building full teams and task forces, and outlining policy proposals, but is also in “a standoff with the [current] administration that is preventing the president-elect’s team from accessing key resources,” as reported in The Wall Street Journal.
Biden, for his part, has stayed calm, composed, and yes, presidential in public, answering reporter’s questions about the current president’s refusal to concede with a smile — and confidence in the democratic election results:
“It’s time we get behind the new president and wish him the very best,” Romney said on Sunday on CNN, while GOP colleagues and Trump loyalists such as Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) were on Fox News and the Senate floor repeating the president’s debunked claims about alleged voter fraud.
Romney also told CNN “that it’s destructive to the cause of democracy to suggest widespread fraud or corruption. There’s just no evidence of that at this stage. And I think it’s important for us to recognize that the world is watching. … When you say the election was corrupt or stolen or rigged, that’s the language that gets picked up by authoritarians around the world.”
The world is watching
In the NowThis interview, Schiff said, “To hear a president of the United States display such flagrant disregard for democracy, it is so destructive of the presidency, and mortifying, I think, in terms of our reputation as the preeminent democracy in the world.”
At this point, more foreign leaders have congratulated President-elect Biden than sitting GOP senators.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked Wednesday by Member of Parliament Angela Eagle if he has “any advice for his erstwhile best friend, President Trump, whose continuing refusal to accept the results is both embarrassing for him and dangerous for American Democracy.”
PM Johnson responded by referring to Trump as “the previous president” and said he had a “very exciting,” “refreshing” conversation with President-elect Biden to talk about how they could take action on climate change together.
The man who is supposed to be America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also flirted with the idea of contesting the election results on Tuesday, a surefire way to undermine American democracy abroad. When asked about plans for a transition, Pompeo said, “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” before seemingly laughing it off and talking about how the State Department would prepare for a transition to a new administration. But he still did not recognize Biden as President-elect.
Rep. Schiff also sought to calm people’s anxieties about the post-election period as Trump refuses to concede, though he says he understands the feeling.
“The president can dispute it himself, the president can declare himself king of the world, it doesn’t make it so,” Schiff told NowThis. He explained the process through which states certify their vote counts, send their electors to the electoral college meeting set for December 14, which Congress then certifies in January.
Some political commentators have speculated that GOP-controlled state legislatures may try to interfere with the certification process, based on GOP senators such as Graham refusing to rule it out when asked by reporters.
Though Pennsylvania state House Republicans called for an audit of the vote there, the state Senate Majority Leader (also a Republican) said they will follow the process as laid out by law. State Sen. Jake Corman (R) pointed out that the governor is the one who appoints the electors from each state, something Schiff echoed. “I’m hopeful and confident that the state legislative leadership will do what they’re supposed to do,” Schiff said.
“Ultimately, Congress on January 6 will recognize the appropriately appointed electors and make it official,” the California congressman continued. He added that he’s “enormously grateful that the American people disregarded the noise” and “turned out in record numbers, Democrats and Republicans.”
“We still have a lot of hard work to do, but the system is holding, the system is working besides the anti-democratic leadership coming out of the White House,” Schiff said. “We need to buckle up for the next few weeks, but this too shall pass.”