After US Capitol stormed, 7 of 10 NC Republicans object to election results
Posted January 7, 2021 10:13 a.m. EST
Updated January 7, 2021 12:45 p.m. EST
Washington — Most of North Carolina's Republican congressional delegation voted to object early Thursday to results of the presidential election, a procedure delayed for hours after President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Their concerns centered largely on Pennsylvania, with seven of eight House Republicans voting to object. North Carolina's two senators, both Republicans, voted to accept the results, as they'd previously pledged to do.
Most North Carolina Republicans announced their plans before the votes, though once members were evacuated from the Capitol, plans shifted, and Republicans challenged fewer states.
Ultimately, only two challenges got voted on: Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Among North Carolina Republicans, only 10th District Congressman Patrick McHenry voted to accept results from Pennsylvania. He said in a statement that voting against these "legally submitted electors would violate the oath I took to our Constitution" and set a dangerous precedent.
Ninth District Congressman Dan Bishop, 13th District Congressman Ted Budd, 11th District Congressman Madison Cawthorn, 5th District Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, 3rd District Congressman Greg Murphy, 8th District Congressman Richard Hudson and 7th District Congressman David Rouzer voted against accepting Pennsylvania's results.
Their votes were less uniform on Arizona, with Foxx and Murphy voting to certify and the others voting to object.
Murphy, who announced before the riot plans to object in multiple states, said in a post-vote statement that the issues in Arizona didn't "fit my objecting criteria," but the ones out of Pennsylvania did.
Overall, 121 House Republicans voted against certifying Arizona as Congress went through an esoteric, and usually routine, process of accepting the results of recent presidential election. For Pennsylvania, the count was 138,
All Democrats, including the five from North Carolina, voted to certify in both states, as did Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.
Burr appears to be the only congressional Republican from North Carolina to publicly lay responsibility for Wednesday's riot at the president's feet, blaming him in a statement for "promoting the unfounded conspiracy theories that have led to this point."
Sixth District Congresswoman Kathy Manning, a freshman Democrat from Greensboro, was the first North Carolina member to call for Trump's removal after the riot, though 12th District Congresswoman Alma Adams of Charlotte called for his removal even before, after news broke that Trump called Georgia's secretary of state and asked him to "find" enough votes for him to win the state.
"Whether through the 25th Amendment or impeachment, President Trump must be removed from office immediately," Manning said in a Tweet Wednesday night. "He is unfit to lead our nation."
In their statements, Republican House members largely stuck to condemnations of the violence, thank yous for U.S. Capitol police officers and calls to do better.
"I am ashamed of this horrible behavior," Murphy, a Greenville Republican, tweeted Wednesday evening.
The objection process went like this: The House and Senate met jointly to go through each state alphabetically and count its Electoral College votes, eventually affirming former Vice President Joe Biden won and will assume the presidency come Jan. 20.
It takes at least one member of both the House and the Senate to object to a state's results, triggering debate and a vote in both chambers.
The chambers were debating Arizona when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, forcing a lockdown and an evacuation. After the riot, Senate objectors remained only for Arizona and Pennsylvania, despite efforts from multiple House Republicans to object in other states Biden won.
Among North Carolina Republicans, Bishop, Budd, Cawthorn, Hudson and Rouzer voted against certifying Arizona's electoral votes for Biden. Foxx and Murphy joined them on Pennsylvania.
The complaints in Pennsylvania centered on the state's dramatic increase in absentee ballot allowances last year. Budd said in a tweet early Thursday that he would "not let a violent mob stop me from giving voice to the thousands of North Carolinians who demanded a debate on the irregularities."
Bishop conceded during a floor speech that Biden won the election, something the president has yet to say. Trump falsely claimed at a rally before his supporters stormed the Capitol that he won in a landslide and the election was stolen.
But despite the overall results, Bishop said millions of people believe the state-by-state complaints were worth discussing, "and they aren't dumb" and they "don't believe things simply because the president says them."
"I know that Joe Biden will be president," Bishop said from the House floor, after the rioters were cleared out. "But I don't know that it hurts, or would hurt any of us, to have the generosity of spirit to continue to reflect on what might be better or what might seriously have gone wrong here, even if you reject the notion that the result was wrong."
Though multiple Republican members alleged fraud, the formal objections were procedural, noting correctly that some states changed absentee ballot rules without votes from their state legislatures.
That, Republican lawmakers said, subverted legislative authority to make election rules, as laid out in the U.S. Constitution.
Changes happened in North Carolina too, where the state's absentee ballot was deadline moved back in a legal settlement despite the state legislature voting not to do so. Republicans here filed their own lawsuits to fight the move, which was initially backed by a pair of Republican members on the State Board of Elections who later resigned.
The courts ultimately left the later deadline in place.
Trump won the state by more than 74,000 votes, and Bishop said, in a memo explaining his rationale for objections, that this is why he objected to other states but not North Carolina. A coordinated legal strategy, involving Democratic attorneys in multiple states, didn't produce their desired result in North Carolina, the Charlotte-area Republican said.
"Finally, some have asked the justification for not objecting to electors’ slates from all the other states in which Democrat litigation pressure led to Electors Clause violations, including North Carolina," Bishop wrote. "The answer is that, in some of the states, including North Carolina, Democrats failed."
Fourth District Congressman David Price, a Triangle Democrat, blasted his Republican colleagues in a statement after the objection votes, saying they joined an "unhinged President who has peddled baseless assertions against a legitimate election for months."
“Those Republicans who joined President Trump to overturn the election transformed a routine certification vote into one that threatened the very foundation of our democracy," Price said. "Their unfounded, meritless challenges to the presidential election have been examined repeatedly in court and found to be without merit. They are a stain on our democracy, our Constitution, and run counter to the oath we took earlier this week."