All Roger Marshall wants is for Americans to put his role in that little insurrection thing in the rearview mirror.
On Saturday, CNN’s Pamela Brown pressed the freshman U.S. senator from Kansas about his vote to toss out millions of Americans’ ballots in Arizona and Pennsylvania, and about his joining Texas’ lawsuit to invalidate President Joe Biden’s decisive victory. Marshall was one of only six GOP senators who voted against certifying the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, just hours after a berserk mob invaded the U.S. Capitol, killing at least five people, including one police officer. (Marshall had company in the vote with his Missouri neighbor, Sen. Josh Hawley, natch.)
So does he have any regrets, or concerns that his actions contributed to the fact that fully 70% of Republican voters think the election was illegitimate, Brown asked?
Of course not. “Look, Pamela, it’s, we’re just so ready to move on,” he said, beaming his TV smile. “I made a decision based upon the facts that I knew at that point in time. … But it’s time to move on. It’s time for this country to heal. It’s time for a spirit of forgiveness to be happening.”
Normally, saying “I’m sorry” precedes the expectation of forgiveness.
And he isn’t sorry, since he still didn’t back down from his vague claims about nonexistent voter fraud. “I was concerned then,” he told Brown, “and still am today,” that the election wasn’t aboveboard. (Just the presidential part of it, of course — he’s raised no objection to Republicans’ strong down-ballot showing around the country.)
This isn’t the first time Marshall has urged America to “move on.” In late January, he insisted that a second impeachment trial for Donald Trump would divide us too much, and that “this country has to heal.”
That’s an odd prescription from a doctor-turned-politician who makes it a regular practice to pick at the country’s culture war wounds. His Twitter feed and official press releases often read like a MAGA “Mad Libs.”
Biden’s address last week was “the lowest energy speech I have ever personally heard on the House floor,” he said. “Dem Senators” want to “enact their radical agenda & tip the scales of power in their favor,” he tweeted. He joined fellow firebrand Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa introducing the eye-rollingly named TASTEE Act, or Telling Agencies to Stop Tweaking What Employees Eat Act of 2021, “pushing back against the Left’s ‘War on Meat’ and ‘Meatless Mondays.’”
Marshall certainly has meat on his mind — red meat for his Breitbart sound bite base. But if he really thinks it’s “time for this country to work together and focus on the goals that we can solve together,” as he said to Brown, he could start by apologizing for being one of the leading proponents of the Big Lie about the election.
Debra Ell, a Republican organizer in Michigan and fervent supporter of former president Donald Trump, said she has good reason to believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
“I think I speak for many people in that Trump has never actually been wrong, and so we’ve learned to trust when he says something, that he’s not just going to spew something out there that’s wrong and not verified,” she said, referring to Trump’s baseless claims that widespread electoral fraud caused his loss to President Biden in November.
In fact, there is no evidence to support Trump’s false assertions, which culminated in a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. But Ell, a Republican precinct delegate in her state, said the 2020 election is one of the reasons she’s working to censure and remove Jason Roe from his role as the Michigan Republican Party’s executive director — specifically that Roe accepted the 2020 results, telling Politico that “the election wasn’t stolen” and that “there is no one to blame but Trump.”
“He said the election was not rigged, as Donald Trump had said, so we didn’t agree with that, and then he didn’t blame the Democrats for any election fraud,” said Ell, explaining her frustration with Roe. “He said there was no fraud — again, that’s something that doesn’t line up with what we think really happened — and then he said it’s all Donald Trump’s fault.”
Nearly six months after Trump lost to Biden, rejection of the 2020 election results — dubbed the “Big Lie” by many Democrats — has increasingly become an unofficial litmus test for acceptance in the Republican Party. In January, 147 GOP lawmakers — eight senators and 139 House members — voted in support of objections to the election results, and since then, Republicans from Congress to statehouses to local party organizations have fervently embraced the falsehood.
In Washington, normally chatty senators scramble to skirt the question, and internal feuding over who is to blame for the Jan. 6 insurrection has riven the House Republican leadership, with tensions between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, spilling into public view. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is facing a Trump-aligned primary challenger in her 2022 race, inspired by her call for Trump to resign after the Jan. 6 attack and her later vote to convict him over his role in inciting the insurrection.
Local officials, too, are facing censure and threats — in states from Iowa to Michigan to Missouri — for publicly accepting the election results. And in Arizona’s largest county, a hand recount of 2.1 million votes cast in November is underway by Republicans who dispute the results, in yet another effort to overturn the results of the November contest.
The issue also could reverberate through the 2022 midterms and the 2024 election, with Trump already slamming Republicans who did not resist the election results. For Republicans, fealty to the falsehood could pull the party further to the right during the primaries, providing challenges during the general election when wooing more moderate voters is crucial. And for Democrats, the continued existence of the claim threatens to undermine Biden’s agenda.