The People Who Stood Up To Trump

Geor­gia poll work­ers, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and Ruby Free­man.
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Photos: YouTube

This week’s Janu­ary 6 commit­tee hear­ing provided more detail about the direct pres­sure Pres­id­ent Trump and his allies put on state offi­cials to help over­turn the 2020 elec­tion.

Among others, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R) recoun­ted a campaign by Trump and Rudy Giuliani to get him to submit ille­git­im­ate pro-Trump elect­ors on behalf of his state. Trump called Bowers soon after the elec­tion, and the pres­sure contin­ued from Novem­ber through the morn­ing of Janu­ary 6. Geor­gia Secret­ary of State Brad Raffen­sper­ger (R) and his deputy, Gabe Ster­ling, described a similar campaign to change the elec­tion results, includ­ing an hour-long call on Janu­ary 2 in which Trump urged the secret­ary to “find” him the votes he needed to reverse his defeat.

All three men test­i­fied to the personal impact the pres­sure had on them and their loved ones: disturb­ing protests outside their homes, threats to their lives, and harass­ment of their colleagues, neigh­bors, and family members. 

The stor­ies of personal attacks were upset­ting, includ­ing the racist abuse recoun­ted by two Geor­gia poll work­ers, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and Ruby Free­man. Yet Tues­day’s hear­ing also high­lighted the resi­li­ence of Amer­ican demo­cracy and the hero­ism of our public servants. All three state offi­cials who test­i­fied person­ally suppor­ted Pres­id­ent Trump’s elec­tion but insisted on honor­ing the process and our demo­cratic system. Like many other public servants around the coun­try, they told the truth and refused to give in to enorm­ous polit­ical and personal pres­sure to lie about the outcome.

Wandrea "Shaye" Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman

“I told them I did not want to be used as a pawn,” Bowers told Giuliani and Trump. “I think some­times moments require you to stand up and just take the shots. You are doing your job,” Raffen­sper­ger said. “We followed the Consti­tu­tion, and at the end of the day Pres­id­ent Trump came up short, but I had to be faith­ful to the Consti­tu­tion.”

Trump person­ally suppor­ted a primary chal­lenge to Raffen­sper­ger as part of his campaign to oust the Repub­lic­ans who told the truth about the 2020 elec­tion. But Raffen­sper­ger won his primary in May.

Unfor­tu­nately, many of the offi­cials who stood up to the 2020 pres­sure campaign are leav­ing. In a recent Bren­nan Center survey of elec­tion offi­cials, one in five said they plan to leave before the 2024 elec­tion, with a third citing “polit­ical lead­ers’ attacks on a system they know is fair and honest” as one of their top reas­ons for exit­ing.

In the same poll, nearly two-thirds of elec­tion offi­cials repor­ted being worried about polit­ical lead­ers inter­fer­ing in how they do their jobs in future elec­tions, with nearly one in five concerned about facing pres­sure to certify elec­tion results in favor of a specific candid­ate or party.

Will offi­cials in 2024 stand up to such pres­sure with the same resolve state and local offi­cials showed in 2020? That will be up to voters in 2022.

As the Wash­ing­ton Post and others have repor­ted, dozens of candid­ates for state and local office have won their party’s nomin­a­tion this year after deny­ing or directly ques­tion­ing the 2020 elec­tion results. This includes at least 10 candid­ates for governor and 3 for secret­ary of state — crit­ical offices for running and certi­fy­ing elec­tion results — in battle­ground states such as Pennsylvania and Nevada. It does not include states like Arizona and Wiscon­sin, which have elec­tion deniers on the ballot and have yet to hold their primar­ies.

The legal scholar Karl Llewellyn said, “Our govern­ment is not a govern­ment of laws, but one of laws through men.”

Donald Trump under­stands this. He and his allies are apply­ing relent­less pres­sure to those we rely on to imple­ment our elec­tion laws.

Let’s hope enough people of integ­rity remain in the system to sustain it through the current era of elec­tion sabot­age.

By Lawrence Norden\Brennan Center

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