WASHINGTON — As the wreckage from a violent pro-Trump mob that breached the Capitol was being cleared from hallways, more than half of California’s Republicans in Congress voted to reject election results that cemented President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Seven California Republicans, including the party’s House leader, voted to deny certification of election results from Arizona and Pennsylvania, states where Biden defeated President Trump in the November election. Only two sided with the majority of Congress and all Democrats in at least one of the votes to reject the challenges to the lawful results, and two more were not present because they have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The votes came late Wednesday night, after proceedings of the typically perfunctory Electoral College certification were interrupted by a mob of Trump supporters who swarmed the Capitol, broke into the House and Senate chambers, and ransacked offices. One woman among the crowd was fatally shot by Capitol Police defending the doors to the House. Explosive devices were defused, according to Capitol Police. Lawmakers were evacuated to safe holding rooms as the Capitol was slowly cleared, using gas masks after tear gas had been deployed in the marble halls.
Once Congress resumed, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield delivered remarks decrying the violence and calling for the parties to come together. Then, he voted to reject results from Arizona and Pennsylvania.
He was joined by Republican Reps. Ken Calvert of Corona (Riverside County), Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita (Los Angeles County), Darrell Issa of Vista (San Diego County), Doug LaMalfa of Richvale (Butte County), Devin Nunes of Tulare and Jay Obernolte of Big Bear Lake (San Bernardino County). LaMalfa also signed the initial objection to Arizona.
Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove (Sacramento County) voted to certify the results from Arizona and Pennsylvania. Rep. Young Kim of Fullerton voted for Pennsylvania’s certification and did not vote on the Arizona resolution, but released a statement earlier this week saying she would reject such objections.
GOP Rep. Michelle Steel of Seal Beach (Orange County) and Republican Rep.-elect David Valadao of Hanford (Kings County) were not present for either vote, as both have tested positive for the coronavirus. Valadao is yet to be sworn in because he tested positive before Congress convened Sunday, but released a statement saying he would have joined the majority in certifying the results for Biden.
The challenge to the Arizona vote was rejected in the House 303-121 and in the Senate 93-6, and the Pennsylvania challenge was rejected 282-138 and 92-7, respectively. Congress completed the roll call of state results early Thursday and certified Biden as the winner.
The last-gasp attempt to subvert November’s election results made use of rules that allow objections as each state’s Electoral College votes are certified. If both a member of the House and Senate object, it triggers a round of debate and then a vote of each chamber.
The effort was always doomed to fail, but Trump had urged his party’s lawmakers to object regardless, to support his false claims about election fraud, which have been rejected by dozens of courts as baseless.
Republicans argued that the results were questionable either because of irregularities they did not provide credible evidence for, or because of the way states made changes to election procedures to ensure safety during the pandemic. Those concerns have already been heard by several courts and the changes and results have been upheld as legal.
“I have no interest in overturning any election solely based on allegations,” LaMalfa said in a statement. “I do want the allegations to be investigated before Congress gives a final approval to the results. … My vote today was to ensure that the investigation happened before inauguration day.”
Garcia said he believed the states’ changes to election procedures were invalid. But he said in a statement Thursday it was also time to move on.
“My objection to the electoral votes of two states was not in an attempt to overturn the results of the election, it was to fulfill my duty to protect the rights of the men and women of California’s 25th District,” Garcia said. “Let me be clear, the constitutionally mandated election process has run its course. Joe Biden is the next president of the United States and I congratulate both President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their win.”
Although McClintock joined a request to the Supreme Court to throw out four states’ votes for Biden last month, which was summarily rejected, he said the Constitution was clear that it was not Congress’ right to overrule states’ election results.
“No one has ever claimed that ours is a perfect system,” McClintock wrote in an opinion piece this week. “It is merely the best we have yet been able to design. And until we come up with something better, we owe it to our country, our Constitution and our posterity to stand by it and to respect its outcome, despite our wishes and suspicions.”
Valadao took a stronger stand in a statement provided by his office, saying his colleagues’ efforts were harmful.
“It is not the role of Congress to choose who the states certify,” Valadao said. “Choosing to ignore the facts for the sake of party power is damaging to the American people’s confidence in the Electoral College and sets an unwise precedent for future elections. Simply put, Congress does not have the power to pick the president — the American people do, through the Electoral College.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated how Rep. Young Kim voted on the resolutions. She did not vote on the Arizona objection.
Tal Kopan is the Washington Correspondent for The San Francisco Chronicle. Previously, she was a political reporter for CNN Politics, where she covered immigration, cybersecurity and other hot-button issues in Washington, including the 2016 presidential election.
Prior to joining the network, Kopan was a reporter for POLITICO in Washington, D.C., where she reported for their breaking news team and policy verticals, including a special focus on the Department of Justice, courts and cybersecurity.
Kopan started her career working in Chicago with local media outlets ABC7 Chicago and Fox Chicago News.
Her work has earned her awards and fellowships from the Atlanta Press Club; National Press Foundation; Loyola Law School, Los Angeles; and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Kopan graduated with honors from the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in “law, letters and society.”
News – Here’s how many California Republicans voted to reject election results after violence