This week, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chair of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, tore into pro-Trump lies about what happened after the last election.
Specifically, she ripped claims from Fox personality Mark Levin that the scheme to assemble essentially faked electoral votes for Trump in states Biden won wasn’t all that bad. After tagging Levin, Cheney remarked: “The Eastman memos & fake elector scheme are indefensible. On the memos: Eastman took the opposite legal position a month before the election; he knew all 9 Justices would rule against him; & he admitted it was illegal in an Oval Office meeting & afterwards. White House lawyers said it was illegal too. The fake electoral slates were obviously false, and were transmitted to multiple federal officials for purposes of obstructing the electoral count. None of this is ambiguous. Watch the hearings, and read the opinion of the federal judge who concluded that Eastman and Trump likely violated two criminal statutes.”
On a recent episode of his show, Levin himself commented: “Oh, well, what about these so-called fake electors? That is to be resolved by the United States Congress. That is not a crime either. You might not like it. You might think it’s weird, you might think it’s unethical, but it’s not a crime.” Simply for the sake of the argument, if it’s really perfectly legal for supporters of a defeated presidential candidate to prepare alternate slates of electors, then let’s see how Republicans act if Democrats launch that course of action the next time their presidential contender loses that year’s general election. Obviously, there’s no indication Democrats would actually do that, but if what Levin is saying is true, then chaos — and specifically chaos that could essentially upend democracy at any moment — would dominate U.S. elections.
At another point in Levin’s monologue, he misrepresents the actual evidence at hand to a profound degree. “They aim to show that the attack on the Capitol was not a spontaneous outburst, but that Trump and his allies specifically planned to disrupt the congressional counting,” Levin said, basically referring to Trump opponents. “They have no evidence that Trump did that. None whatsoever.” Actually, there’s specific evidence pointing to an apparent desperation on Trump’s part to personally get to the Capitol on January 6 — plans that were in development before January 6 but to which Trump still held even as the head of his Secret Service detail pushed him to return to the White House instead of going to the Capitol following the January 6 Trump rally. What would Trump have done there? He certainly wouldn’t have simply sat in the corner and eaten a sandwich. He’d no doubt have sought to pursue what could easily amount to obstruction.
“So when people say that Trump was trying to reverse an election, it’s not over until Congress says it’s over,” Levin added on his show. “And we’ve actually had situations like this one with Jefferson where it wasn’t over until Congress made the final decision.” The thing is that the law has dramatically changed since the era of Thomas Jefferson. As for Levin’s broader claims, one could also say it’s not “over” until the inauguration. It’s a pointlessly broad argument that Levin’s trying to use for claims Congress can intervene in the outcome without much concern or scrutiny, but if Congress was consistently tasked with basically deciding the outcome of the election — as Levin suggests — democracy would be a farce.