Portman says he will not challenge Biden Electoral College votes

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Staff report

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said on Monday that he will not join some members of his party in challenging the formal count of the Electoral College votes by Congress on Wednesday.

“The Constitution created a system for electing the president through the Electoral College that ensures the people and the states hold the power, not Congress,” Portman said in a news release. “I cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters.”

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Portman noted that endorsed President Donald Trump, voted for him, campaigned as one of his Ohio co-chairs, and preferred his policies.

 “Like nearly half the country, I was disappointed in the election results,” Portman said. “Following the election, I supported the Trump campaign’s right to pursue recounts and legal challenges. There were instances of fraud and irregularities, as there are in every presidential election, and those who engaged in that conduct should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But after two months of recounts and legal challenges, not a single state recount changed a result and, of the dozens of lawsuits filed, not one found evidence of fraud or irregularities widespread enough to change the result of the election.”

Portman said this was the finding of numerous Republican-appointed judges and the Trump Administration’s own Department of Justice. He said every state has now weighed in and certified its electoral slate based on its vote and the process set out in the Constitution.

Trump has refused to concede last year’s presidential election to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden and several Republican senators have said they will vote to challenge the electoral count in the chamber. A group of Republicans in the House have made a similar vow.

Portman said a vote rejecting electors has only happened twice in the 133 years since Congress enacted a statute, and Congress has never voted to uphold a challenge.

“It is an extreme remedy because, counter to the Constitution, it allows Congress to substitute its judgment for the judgment of the voters, and for the judgment of the states that certified the results,” Portman said. “The only time this was attempted in the past 70 years was in 2005 when Democrats objected to the electors from my home state of Ohio, hoping to give the presidency to John Kerry instead of George W. Bush. I stood in opposition to Democrats then, saying Congress should not ‘obstruct the will of the American people.’”

He said he was concerned at the time that it would “establish a dangerous precedent.”

“I cannot now support Republicans doing the same thing,” Portman said. “Over the course of my public service career I have taken the same oath on numerous occasions, swearing to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I plan on honoring that oath by supporting the state certifications and the will of the people. I will vote to certify in accordance with my duty under the Constitution.”