Two Virginia Republicans Defend Their Votes on Electoral College Objections

Jan 7, 2021

Fencing is placed around the exterior of the Capitol grounds Thursday morning, as Virginia state troopers guard the work.
Credit AP Photo/John Minchillo

All four Republicans in Virginia's Congressional delegation voted in favor of objections to certifying Joe Biden’s election.

Two of them continued to defend their votes as voicing the concerns of their constituents.

Lies about the election drove thousands of people to mob the Capitol this week. But when Pennsylvania Congressman Conor Lamb pointed out those lies were being repeated on the House floor, well that was too much for Southwest Virginia Republican Congressman Morgan Griffith.  "That was a breach of decorum to call any member a liar on the floor," Griffith said Thursday. "If he wants to have a debate out in the media that's fine. He can say that. But on the floor of the House, that's a breach of decorum, and I called him on it."

Griffith tried to raise a formal objection, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed it during a tense moment on the House floor in a day full of tense moments.

Griffith says he bears no responsibility for the attack on the Capitol that occurred just hours before the shouting match with Lamb.  "Why would I bear any responsibility" Griffith asked reporter Michael Pope?

"You and other Republicans who raised objections to elections," Pope noted.

"I raised no objections," Griffith responded.

"You voted twice in favor of the objections," Pope pointed out.

"I voted to sustain the objections. There's a difference," Griffith replied. "I did not sign on to any of the objections, and that is our constitutional right. Members have a right to do that. Now that doesn't condone any violence whatsoever."

Republicans say they were just voicing concerns that have been raised by their constituents. First District Republican Congressman Rob Wittman voted against the objection to Arizona's electoral votes but in favor of disenfranchising voters in Pennsylvania because of an ongoing court challenge.  "We are a nation of laws, and everybody has a personal responsibility," Wittman said Thursday.

"What about your personal responsibility. Do you bear any responsibility," reporter Michael Pope asked?

"I bear responsibility for my actions, and my actions are to make sure that I'm doing my job as a legislator expressing the concerns of my constituents," Wittman replied.

When asked if he believed President Trump was responsible for the attack, Wittman was reluctant to criticize the president.  "I believe that rhetoric that inflames tensions is not productive," he said.

"Did the president use rhetoric that inflamed tensions," Pope asked?

"Listen, the president gave a speech yesterday. You'll have to talk to the people who listened to that speech and what they took from that," said Wittman.

Former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman says if he had been there, he would have voted against the objections.  "It seems like the right is in a hold my beer moment," Riggleman said. "You think we can go crazier? Hold my beer."

Riggleman says those votes in favor of objections to the results of Election 2020 will be an important part of the legacy of all of the Republicans in Virginia's congressional delegation, a mark that will follow them for the rest of their time in public life.

Virginia Senators Say It's Time To Consider The 25th Amendment

Senator Tim Kaine says it’s time to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Trump from office.

The Democrat cited a number of White House staff resignations after a violent mob stormed the Capitol Wednesday, in what he calls an attempt to overthrow the government.

"He is so lacking in judgement that we can't trust him to be president and commander-in-chief," Kaine said Thursday. "Clearly, he feels 'I'm on my way out the door and I don't mind trashing the place.' And that's not just a metaphor. I mean that's what happened."

Kaine says the Cabinet and Vice President can start this process, and Trump can file an objection, leaving it to Congress to vote on his removal.

Virginia’s other Democratic Senator says the move should be considered.  Mark Warner says he’s personally encouraged members of the cabinet to consider how history will remember them.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.