By Nicholas Riccardi | Related Press
The brand new chief of one of many chambers of Congress that can certify the winner of subsequent 12 months’s presidential election helped spearhead the try and overturn the final one, elevating alarms that Republicans might attempt to subvert the desire of the voters if they continue to be in energy regardless of safeguards enacted after the 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Mike Johnson, the Louisiana congressman who was elected speaker of the Home of Representatives on Wednesday after a three-week standoff amongst Republicans, took the lead in submitting a short in a lawsuit that sought to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election win. That declare, extensively panned by authorized students of all ideologies, was shortly thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court docket.
After the 2020 election, Johnson additionally echoed a few of the wilder conspiracy theories pushed by then-President Donald Trump to elucidate away his loss. Then Johnson voted in opposition to certifying Biden’s win even after the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.
Johnson’s function three years in the past is related not solely as a result of the speaker is second within the line of presidential succession, after the vp. The Home Johnson now leads additionally should certify the winner of the 2024 presidential election.
“You don’t need individuals who falsely declare the final election was stolen to be ready of deciding who received the subsequent one,” mentioned Rick Hasen, a regulation professor on the College of California, Los Angeles. On Wednesday, he flagged one other fear about Johnson, who’s a constitutional lawyer.
“Johnson is extra harmful as a result of he wrapped up his try and subvert the election outcomes in lawyerly and technical language,” Hasen mentioned.
Final 12 months, Congress revamped the procedures for a way a presidential win is licensed, making it far tougher to object in the way in which that Johnson and 146 different Home Republicans did on Jan. 6, 2021. However there’s a conservative faculty of thought that no laws can management how Congress oversees the certification of a president’s win — all that counts is the Structure’s broad granting of energy to ratify the electoral school’s votes.
The Home in January 2025 can be stuffed with the winners of the earlier November’s election, so there’s no assure a Speaker Johnson would stay in energy. To make sure, it might be tough for the speaker to alter any of the outcomes. The vp — who can be Democrat Kamala Harris on the time — presides over the joint Home and Senate session in a ceremonial function and calls votes if there are sufficient objections to take action.
Nonetheless, the purpose of Trump supporters in 2020 was to advance any authorized argument in opposition to Biden’s win to a Supreme Court docket the place conservative justices have a 6-3 edge, three of whom had been nominated by Trump. A speaker who supported Trump’s final effort to remain in energy can be well-positioned to take action once more if the previous president is the GOP nominee subsequent 12 months and loses the election.
On Tuesday night time, after Johnson was nominated to his new submit by the Home GOP caucus, he smiled and shook his head as the remainder of the caucus laughed and booed at a reporter’s query about his function in making an attempt to halt certification of the 2020 outcomes. “Subsequent query,” Johnson mentioned. “Subsequent query.”
Democrats stored the difficulty heart stage because the speaker vote on the ground proceeded Wednesday.
“This has been about one factor,” Rep. Pete Aguilar mentioned. “This has been about who can appease Donald Trump. Home Republicans have put their names behind somebody who has been known as an important architect of the electoral school objections.”
“Rattling proper,” somebody known as from the Republican aspect of the Home.
Later, Home Minority Chief Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., famous that Biden had received the 2020 election. Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene yelled, “No, he didn’t.”
Johnson’s ascension got here after Trump on Tuesday torpedoed the candidacy of Rep. Tom Emmer, who signed onto Johnson’s temporary within the lawsuit to overturn Trump’s loss however ended up voting to certify Biden’s win after the assault on the Capitol. The previous president known as Emmer a “RINO” — or Republican In Identify Solely — on his social media platform, Fact Social, and mentioned Emmer “wasn’t MAGA,” a reference to his Make America Nice Once more slogan.
Johnson is a former lawyer for the non secular rights group Alliance Defending Freedom who was first elected to the Home in 2016, the 12 months Trump received the presidency. An lively member of the Home Judiciary Committee, he gained discover as one of many main Republican questioners of witnesses throughout Trump’s first impeachment in 2019.
He remained one in all Trump’s chief defenders by means of the 2020 election. On Nov. 7, 2020, 4 days after Election Day, he posted on Twitter that he had instructed Trump, “Keep sturdy and hold preventing, sir!” In an interview on a Shreveport, Louisiana, radio station 10 days later, he repeated a debunked declare about a global conspiracy to hack voting machines so Trump would lose.
“In each election in American historical past, there’s some small factor of fraud, irregularity,” Johnson mentioned within the interview. “However when you will have it on a broad scale, when you will have a software program system that’s used throughout the nation that’s suspect as a result of it got here from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, when you will have testimonials of individuals like this, it calls for to be litigated.”
Johnson then organized greater than 100 Home Republicans to signal onto an amicus temporary filed in help of a lawsuit from Texas’ Republican Legal professional Normal, Ken Paxton, asking the U.S. Supreme Court docket to invalidate Biden’s wins in 4 states that gave him his profitable margin within the Electoral Faculty — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Many authorized analysts had been aghast on the litigation, which was shortly rejected by the excessive court docket.
On his social media streaming present, former New York Metropolis Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who’s dealing with prices in Georgia for making an attempt to overturn the election outcomes there, praised Johnson on Wednesday for refusing to simply accept Trump’s 2020 election loss.
“He appears to be proper on every part, together with the issues I’m considering, which is he didn’t settle for the election rollover,” mentioned Giuliani, who additionally praised Johnson for supporting the lawsuit by the Texas lawyer basic.
In an interview with The New Yorker in December 2020, Johnson dialed down his election rhetoric.
“I don’t see a grand conspiracy,” he mentioned of the allegations of voter fraud. “What I see is loads of chaos and confusion throughout the land, and the result’s that this election may have this big query mark hanging over it.”
On Jan. 6, simply earlier than Trump’s supporters overran the Capitol, Johnson tweeted: “We MUST struggle for election integrity, the Structure, and the preservation of our republic! It is going to be my honor to assist lead that struggle within the Congress at present.”
Hours later, after the assault, Johnson condemned the violence on Twitter. However he nonetheless voted with about two-thirds of Home Republicans to overturn Biden’s wins in Arizona and Pennsylvania. He stays near Home Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, a fellow Republican who strategized with Trump over overturn his defeat earlier than Jan. 6.
Trump’s supporters in making an attempt to overturn the election haven’t fared nicely in elections because the violent assault on the Capitol, with a slate of conspiracy theorists trying to imagine positions overseeing elections in key swing states all shedding their races final 12 months. As a substitute, they’ve excelled at profitable inner get together contests and taking management of some state events. Now in addition they have claimed one of many nation’s strongest political positions.
Joanna Lydgate, chief govt officer of States United Democracy Middle, a nonpartisan group organizing in opposition to election deniers, mentioned Johnson’s ascension was alarming: “How will you run the folks’s Home should you don’t imagine within the will of the folks?”
Noting the speaker’s function in “the peaceable switch of energy” between presidential administrations, Lydgate warned, “When these in energy don’t take our democracy and the desire of the folks severely, it will probably have dire penalties.”
Related Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington and Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to this report.