‘Faith in Our Institutions Held’


The Electoral College votes, affirming Biden’s victory. So now it’s official, again. It’s Tuesday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

Stacey Abrams, the presiding officer at Georgia’s Electoral College meeting, spoke to electors at the Georgia State Capitol yesterday.

“I fear we’d lose our country forever.”

Those were the stark and unflinching words of the Republican speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, Lee Chatfield, who issued a statement yesterday just hours before he and Mike Shirkey, the Republican majority leader in the State Senate, affirmed Michigan’s 16 electoral votes for Biden.

“I can’t fathom risking our norms, traditions and institutions to pass a resolution retroactively changing the electors for Trump, simply because some think there may have been enough widespread fraud to give him the win,” Chatfield wrote.

Trump had summoned him and Shirkey to the White House last month and sought to persuade them to replace the state’s electors by holding a vote in the state’s Legislature. As supporters of the president who have their own political ambitions, and who represent a state where Trump remains highly popular among Republicans, Chatfield and Shirkey were willing to meet with him and hear him out.

But they ultimately rejected his plan, and in the process became canaries in the mine for other state- and national-level Republicans across the country, who are now straining to balance their loyalty to the president with an unwillingness to go along with his undemocratic behavior.

That is not an easy task politically: More than two-thirds of Republican voters nationwide think Trump was unfairly robbed of victory in the election, according to a Fox News poll last week. Sixty-six percent of Republicans said the president’s challenges to the election were in fact helping American democracy, and even more — 71 percent — said they wanted him to run again in 2024.

But things are very different among Democrats and independents, who overwhelmingly believe Biden won fair and square.

In Washington, Republican leaders are beginning to let go of their long-unwavering loyalty to Trump, as top senators stepped forward yesterday after the Electoral College’s vote to acknowledge Biden as the president-elect and Kamala Harris as the vice president-elect.

“I understand there are people who feel strongly about the outcome of this election, but in the end, at some point, you have to face the music,” Senator John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, said at the Capitol. “And I think once the Electoral College settles the issue today, it’s time for everybody to move on.”

That change in tone didn’t come soon enough for Representative Paul Mitchell, Republican of Michigan, who has been so disgusted by his party’s refusal to confront Trump over his disinformation campaign that he is leaving the G.O.P.

Mitchell, who did not run for re-election this year and was already planning to retire from Congress, announced the news yesterday in a letter to top Republican officials. He warned that they were helping Trump do “long-term harm to our democracy” by giving credence to his baseless claims of election fraud.

Mitchell plans to serve out the rest of his term as an independent.

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