Most Senate Republicans have finally admitted that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States, but one thing they're not conceding is the fight to keep Donald Trump's cultists filled to the gills with disinformation.
Naturally, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has jumped to the front of the line, using his post as chair of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee to mainstream as many of Trump's election fraud conspiracy theories as possible during a hearing on “election irregularities.” This is where Johnson really excels: holding hearings and launching investigations specifically to recycle charges with no basis in fact and give them the sheen of congressional heft.
It's a perfect fit for Johnson—whose relationship with reality seems pretty loose at best—but the fact that nearly every Republican senator on the committee joined in Johnson's scheme signifies that Republicans have every intention of continuing to be the party of baseless conspiracies long after Trump leaves office.
Johnson's main witnesses, supposedly called forth to examine fraud in the election, were a cadre of loser attorneys who had failed to prove a single instance of fraud in the courts, where Trump has lost fully 59 cases. One witness, according to The Washington Post, got his case thrown out of a Nevada court for failing to demonstrate "under any standard of proof that illegal votes were cast and counted,” wrote the judge. That ringing endorsement apparently made him a perfect witness to elucidate the imaginary fraud for Johnson's hearing.
But the witnesses weren't the only ones spreading lies. Republicans piled on with their own claims:
- “There was fraud in this election,” stated Johnson. “I don’t have any doubt about that.”
- “I think it's the right thing to do to get people to feel comfortable that elections are free and fair,” Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said, justifying the hearing. “And if this one wasn't that, the next one will be.”
- “Fraud happened,” asserted Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. “The election in many ways was stolen.”
Don't be fooled by the certainty of those statements—none of them are backed up with evidence. Except for Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who appears to think the very existence of rampantly misinformed people is proof positive of fraud.
“Yesterday, I was talking from the state of Missouri with some of the constituents back at home, a group of about 30 people," Hawley recounted. "Every single one of them, every one of them told me that they felt they had been disenfranchised, that their votes didn’t matter, that the election had been rigged. These are normal, reasonable people. These are not crazy people.”
Oh, well, there you have it—they “felt” disenfranchised, all 30 of them.
This is what passes for logic these days among the esteemed representatives of one of the nation’s two major parties in what was once considered “the world’s greatest deliberative body”—now simply a cesspool of GOP-sponsored disinformation. My how we’ve fallen.