The two Republican members of Montana’s congressional delegation didn’t answer questions Tuesday about their stated intent to object to the results of tomorrow’s Electoral College vote count, and about increasingly radical attempts by President Donald Trump in recent days to overturn the results of the election he lost to Joe Biden.
Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Matt Rosendale have both said they will join a growing number of congressional Republicans in voting to reject the electors from several specific states won by Biden when Congress meets Wednesday to certify the vote of the Electoral College. Both have pointed to election fraud allegations as the reason for their planned objections, and both have called for an audit of election results. Neither has presented any evidence supporting the fraud allegations.
On Tuesday, Rosendale said he would join some House Republicans in objecting to certification of presidential electors from “certain disputed states,” asserting “widespread, credible allegations of fraud and irregularities in many states.” Rosendale’s statement did not specify which states he regards as disputed, and cited no evidence to support his claims.
As Daines previously has, Rosendale couched his objection in terms of bolstering voter confidence in Electoral College vote results, which have already been certified by their respective states.
“These allegations have endangered the American people’s faith in our electoral process,” he said in a statement announcing his intention. “All Americans have the right to a fair, secure election, and should be confident that the process ensures all legitimate ballots are counted, and all fraudulent ballots are rejected.”
Daines announced his intention to join a handful of Senate Republicans in objecting to certifying the election for Biden on Saturday, calling for an emergency 10-day audit that would delay certification of the Electoral College vote and, Daines claimed, restore public confidence in the integrity of the election.
Spokespeople for Daines and Rosendale did not respond to requests to provide evidence supporting their claims, nor to questions about whether they support other recent efforts by Trump to reverse the outcome of the election. Many political observers, including congressional Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have described objections to the electoral vote count as ill-advised and almost certain to fail. Neither Daines nor Rosendale responded to questions about how they would respond to certification of the vote and whether they’ll recognize Biden as the election’s legitimate winner after the vote is certified.
Daines spokesperson Miles Novak did not respond to emailed questions sent Tuesday morning or a voicemail Tuesday afternoon. Harry Fones, a Rosendale spokesman, didn’t respond to a Tuesday morning email and didn’t return a message left with Rosendale’s office Tuesday afternoon.
Daines spokesperson Katie Schoettler responded to the same questions late Tuesday afternoon with an emailed statement reiterating Daines’ position as expressed in the Jan. 2 press release announcing his call for an audit of the vote.
Courts have already dismissed dozens of claims of widespread result-altering fraud brought by Trump’s legal team and political allies. The U.S. Supreme Court has also declined to hear challenges to the election results. The Trump-appointed former top federal election official in charge of election cybersecurity, Chris Krebs, has refuted claims of election fraud. Trump fired Krebs Nov. 17 after Krebs publicly refuted claims of election fraud. And Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, said the U.S. Department of Justice had uncovered no evidence of widespread fraud before leaving his position late last month.
State election officials and governors, including Georgia’s Republican governor and secretary of state, have also refuted claims that their states’ elections were marred by fraud. In a call to Georgia election officials on Saturday, Trump pressured them to “find” 11,780 votes — the number needed to reverse that state’s results in favor of Trump — while also suggesting they could be charged with a crime if they didn’t grant Trump’s request.
The officials rejected Trump’s request and allegations of fraud, saying Georgia’s election was properly conducted and correctly counted.
Montana Free Press presented Daines’ and Rosendale’s offices on Tuesday with questions about whether they support Trump’s effort to convince Georgia election officials to change the state’s vote count and whether they support a recommendation from former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn that Trump should declare martial law and have the military conduct a new election.
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte also didn’t respond to a question on Tuesday about his position on Wednesday’s count of the Electoral College vote in Congress. Last month, Gianforte, Montana’s U.S. representative at the time, and then-Montana Attorney General Tim Fox joined other GOP members of Congress and 19 Republican state attorneys general in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case that claimed election officials in four states, not including Montana, unconstitutionally changed election rules by including allowances for voting by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit argued that only state legislatures have the power to change election rules. The high court declined to hear that case on Dec. 11.
In a similar case, a federal judge in Montana previously ruled in September that Montana’s decision to alter its election rules to allow mail-in voting without legislative approval was constitutional.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland formally executed the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes water compact Friday, finalizing a long-running effort to negotiate an agreement that reconciles the tribes’ historic treaty rights with Montana’s modern water rights doctrine.
Hundreds of public-submitted maps have been filed as the state’s Districting and Apportionment Commission gets to work drawing Montana’s new congressional districts.
This week, hospitals from Billings to Missoula are instituting or preparing to institute a “crisis standard of care” under which medical services and supplies are rationed. While case numbers are still slightly lower than they were last winter during the virus’ previous peak, hospitals are being overwhelmed with COVID patients.