President Donald Trump scheduled a mysterious meeting with Pennsylvania legislators in the final hours before he was scheduled to leave Washington for Mar-a-Lago Wednesday – as Republican loyalists prepare to overturn the election results.
The state senators said Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano – who oversaw a hearing-style event to promote Trump’s claims of election fraud – had invited fellow Republicans to the luncheon.
The purpose of the meeting was shrouded even from the attendees themselves, who had to hurry to Washington to meet with Trump in between his sudden pardons issued Tuesday evening, his online threat to veto a coronavirus relief bill, and his plan to head to his Florida residence for the holidays.
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano invited fellow state Republican lawmakers to the Trump luncheon, although several said they wouldn’t make it
Mastriano helped organize the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania hearing-style event where Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani put forward fraud claims – even as state and federal courts turned back election challenges.
Hours after it concluded, Mastriano tested positive for COVID-19. According to the AP, he learned of the test results while meeting with Trump at the White House early this month, the York Daily Record reported.
‘Nothing in the invitation gave any indication of the purpose,’ Sen. Lisa Baker told Pennlive.com. She said she didn’t have plans to attend.
Other state senators also took a pass. One told the publication she was traveling, another had a family commitment, and another cited work.
One state senator, Ryan Aument, indicated a White House visit wasn’t worth the effort. ‘I can’t take a day and go down [to D.C.]. And it seems to me I don’t know that there’s much to come out of that conversation, frankly,” he told the publication.
The state Republican lawmakers held a hearing-style event where Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis were present. Trump called in to the event
PA Sen. Doug Mastriano at a hearing with Rudy Giuliani at PA hearing last month
The event was not listed on the president’s public schedule.
It was not immediately clear if Trump was seeking something from the lawmakers, or whether the lunch was meant as a ‘thank you’ for prior efforts.
Around lunchtime, Trump’s attention appeared to veer to another state, where he tagged Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who he has blamed for not being aggressive enough in following up his fraud claims. ‘They are slow walking the signature verification in Georgia. They don’t want results to get out prior to January 6th. They know what they are trying so hard to hide. Terrible people! @BrianKempGA,’ Trump wrote.
He made time to meet with state legislatures before states were certifying their results – including a last-ditch meeting with Michigan House leaders as the certification process went forward recognizing Democrat Joe Biden’s win there.
More than a dozen House Republicans have signed up for an effort to try to overturn President-elect Joe Biden‘s win in the election – among them Rep.-elect Madison Cawthorne, who was granted a prominent speaking slot at Donald Trump‘s convention.
The House meets Jan. 6 to count the votes of the Electoral College, where Biden defeated Trump 306 to 232 based on how people voted in results certified by the states. But the president has been rallying loyalists among House Republicans and turning up the heat on top officials who challenge his claims of election fraud.
On Tuesday night, he trained his fire on South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the Senate GOP Whip, who had predicted the electoral challenge will go down ‘like a shot dog,’ calling for Thune to be primaried and mocking him as ‘Mitch’s boy,’ in reference to Senate leader McConnell.
Rep.-elect Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina is among more than a dozen House Republicans who say they will object to state electors when Congress meets to count the votes, where President-elect Joe Biden prevailed 306 to 232 based on how people voted
Cawthorne, 25, who is partially paralyzed and uses a wheelchair, is set to become the youngest member of the new Congress. He spoke at the Trump-centric Republican National Convention, after the president backed his primary opponent.
He tweeted Monday night, beginning with a defensive remark: ‘Not doing this to help my career in Washington, in fact this will most likely harm it. But no one should go to Washington as a career. Go there to serve the people. And on behalf of the people I am contesting this election based on constitutional violations by key states,’ he wrote.
He joins a growing list of Republicans who are signing up to seek to overturn the election, despite Attorney General Bill saying he hasn’t seen evidence of fraud to overturn the results, the failure of dozens of lawsuits claiming fraud, and Joe Biden’s 7 million vote victory in the popular vote.
Cawthorn will be the youngest member of the new Congress. He spoke at the GOP Convention
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., has said he will challenge electors during the count
President Donald Trump is demanding Republicans act to defend him. The lawmakers say he backs their effort
Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the joint meeting of Congress Jan. 6
‘I have a message for all other Republicans across the country,’ said Cawthorne. ‘If you are not on the record calling for fair, free and just elections now and in the future, I will come to your district and I will fund a primary opponent against you,’ he said, the Hill reported.
Several House conservatives met with Trump at the White House Monday. They were joined by Vice President Mike Pence, who on Tuesday told cheering students at the Turning Point USA conference: ‘we’re going to keep fighting’ to overturn the election.
‘Big meeting today with @realDonaldTrump, @VP, the President’s legal team, @FreedomCaucus, and other Members of Congress,’ tweeted Rep. Jody Hice, a Georgia Republican. ‘I will lead an objection to Georgia’s electors on Jan 6. The courts refuse to hear the President’s legal case. We’re going to make sure the People can!’
Hice tweeted Wednesday, writing that Trump ‘has fought honorably for America. Now it’s our time to fight for him AND America! Why are so many unwilling to stand up and reject fraud? Every single illegal ballot cancels and diminishes a legal American vote. Fraud cannot be ignored or swept under a rug!’
Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) tweeted a series of claims about voter fraud that have not found favor in the courts
Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia says he will object to the slate of electors from his home state, where Biden defeated Trump in the results that withstood multiple recounts
An early voice calling for challenging the vote was Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who was among those meeting with Trump. ‘President Trump is very supportive of our effort,’,’ he told the Associated Press. Texas GOP Rep. Brian Babin has also joined the effort, as has Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.).
Challenging a state’s electors requires a single House member and a single senator. It forces a break from the joint session of Congress Jan. 6, where each chamber then debates the challenge. It can be overturned by a simple majority in either chamber. Democrats narrowly control the House, and Republicans narrowly control the chamber, but multiple Republicans have acknowledged Joe Biden’s win since the Electoral College met, states certified results, and a ‘safe harbor’ deadline for challenging state results passed.
Pence, as president of the Senate, will preside over the joint session as it counts the votes.
Trump’s attack at Sen. Thune came after he plainly stated where he thinks the effort is going.
‘They’ve got to remember is. It’s just not going anywhere. It’s going down like a shot dog,’ he told reporters. ‘And I just don’t think it makes a lot of sense to put everybody through this when you know what the ultimate outcome is going to be.’