A Missouri House committee voted Monday to advance a resolution calling for investigations of voting in six swing states critical to President Trump's defeat in the Electoral College.
The resolution, which declares that the House “has no faith in the validity” of the results in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, passed 6-3 with Republicans in the majority.
The resolution does not carry the force of law and cannot make the other states do anything, but it nevertheless prompted three hours of passionate testimony and a cameo from Rudy Guiliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.
Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake St. Louis, pitched his resolution as a way to stand up for people who feel their voices have been silenced by fraud.
“The people of Missouri elected one president pretty handily,” he said, referring to Trump’s victory here. “To lose that from a state that refuses to investigate (fraud) to the fullest extent, I believe — and many Missourians believe — harms our state.”
His resolution lists several claims about irregularities that appear paraphrased from a recent post on the website of a conservative British newsmagazine.
Among the claims is one that says that 86,000 absentee ballots cast in Pennsylvania are “questionable” without any further explanation.
Another part claims a “manifest lack of any absentee ballot and mail in ballot oversight” led to rampant illegal activity, again without further explanation or detail.
When Rep. Keri Ingle, D-Lee’s Summit, pointed out that several claims have been debunked by fact-checkers, Hill replied by saying that absentee ballots are inherently fraudulent because there is no guarantee that they are not.
Hill added that it was not his job to get to the bottom of the claims.
“I’m not investigating these items,” he said, “I’m asking those states to investigate them.”
His resolution also says that if the states refuse, Congress should reject their electoral votes when it tallies them in January.
Democrats seemed to find it all ridiculous.
Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, pointed out that Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr said Dec. 1 that his Justice Department had not found evidence of voter fraud that would change the outcome of the election.
Outgoing Rep. Jon Carpenter became emotional as he spoke against the resolution.
“I think what you are doing is incredibly divisive and undermines faith in democracy,” he told Hill. “We shouldn’t be here. We should not be doing this.”
But Republicans framed the resolution as defending democracy.
“One issue of fraud in one state, if it changed the election, changes my vote in the state of Missouri,” said Rep. Jered Taylor, a Republican from Christian County. “All you’re asking for, and I applaud you, is to look at whether we need to investigate mass fraud.”
Shortly after Taylor said that, Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, told the committee via Zoom there’s plenty to investigate.
For example, he said Pennsylvania counted more than 2.5 million absentee ballots despite only mailing out 1.8 million.
Records show the state actually mailed out more than 3 million ballots; the 1.8 million figure was the number of absentee ballots cast in the state’s June primary.
Giuliani also claimed that surveillance video in Fulton County, Georgia, caught Democratic poll workers throwing out inspectors and then “surreptitiously counting ballots” taken from underneath a table that swung the election to Biden.
The video does not show poll workers kicking GOP monitors out or hiding or obscuring ballots.
Georgia election administrators told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the video actually shows poll workers putting uncounted absentee ballots in ballot containers when they thought they were going home for the night around 10 p.m. on Nov. 3 and then getting them back out when the secretary of state’s office called and asked them to keep going.
The former New York mayor’s testimony riled Merideth, who berated him as a liar.
“I am tired of your lies,” Merideth said. “America is tired of your lies. And they are dangerous, sir. They are dangerous.”
Giuliani replied by telling Merideth he was actually the real “dangerous” one for failing to question election results.
Despite the time invested Monday night, it’s unclear whether the resolution will ever get a vote in the full House.
More than 60 other House Republicans, including Springfield Reps. Curtis Trent and Craig Fishel, signed a letter asking House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, to allow consideration of the resolution earlier this month.
But Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, released a statement during Monday’s hearing saying his committee, which hears bills before they go to the floor, will not be voting on the resolution.
In the statement, Miller cited financial costs and the health risk of gathering amid a pandemic.
House members are paid a $121 per diem each day they show up to session to cover food and lodging; paying per diems for all 163 members costs $19,723 per day.