, , ,

US Sen. Ron Johnson’s Election Hearing Revives Trump Arguments Rejected In Court

Congressional Hearing Also Briefly Turned Into A Shouting Match

Ron Johnson
Senate Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., questions witnesses during a hearing on 2020 census on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 16, 2019. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo  

Days after losing his lawsuit before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a lawyer for President Donald Trump’s campaign made his case in front of a U.S. Senate committee at the invitation of Wisconsin’s U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

In the process, attorney Jim Troupis gave an incomplete picture of the Supreme Court’s ruling, glossing over multiple opinions that rejected some of the Trump campaign’s boldest claims about the November presidential election.

The Trump campaign’s lawsuit filed in Wisconsin by Troupis challenged a total of 221,323 absentee ballots. They came from four groups of voters in Dane and Milwaukee counties, the only counties where Trump requested a recount.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

In a 4-3 ruling written by conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn, the court dismissed Trump’s case, ruling that it should have been filed before the election, not after.

Troupis attacked the court’s ruling at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

“Three million people properly voted in the state of Wisconsin,” Troupis told Johnson’s committee. “More than 200,000 identified during this recount did not. But those votes got counted, and our statute says they should not have been.”

“And of course, the remedy is not particularly pleasing,” Johnson responded. “Which is one of the reasons the decision went it’s way.”

Troupis attacked the court’s majority for not ruling on the merits of the case, quoting from a dissent by Chief Justice Patience Roggensack to bolster his argument.

Unmentioned by Troupis or Johnson on Wednesday was that nowhere did Roggensack suggest that she would have rejected anywhere close to 200,000 votes.

Trump’s lawsuit challenged 170,140 absentee ballots cast in-person before Election Day, 28,395 votes cast by voters who said they were “indefinitely confined,” 17,271 ballots cast at Madison’s “Democracy in the Park” events and 5,517 ballots where clerks were directed to fill in missing information for a witness’ address.

Roggensack’s dissent, which was joined by conservative Justices Annette Ziegler and Rebecca Bradley, focused in on the ballots involving “Democracy in the Park” and witness addresses. She said the boards of canvassers in Milwaukee and Dane counties based their decisions to accept those ballots on “erroneous advice.”

She said no such thing with regard to the other categories of ballots challenged by Trump, ruling that justices “do not have sufficient information” about those who claimed they were indefinitely confined. She also didn’t agree with the Trump campaign’s argument that in-person absentee ballots should be tossed because they didn’t include a “separate” application.

In raw numbers, her ruling cast doubt on 22,788 ballots challenged by Trump, but it didn’t support the campaign’s claims on the other 198,546.

Hagedorn wrote his own concurring opinion, suggesting that if the court had heard Trump’s challenge on the merits, he would have rejected it because the votes in question were legally cast.

None of opinions issued as part of the ruling suggested any of the justices were open to challenging “more than 200,000” votes — the number Troupis mentioned in the Senate committee Wednesday.

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden won Wisconsin by 20,682 votes, but even if the court had overturned all of the ballots referenced by Roggensack in her dissent, it likely wouldn’t have overturned his victory. That’s because the stricken votes would have been pulled at random from Dane and Milwaukee counties, resulting in some Republican votes being thrown out along with those from Democrats.

Johnson billed his Wednesday hearing as a transparent examination of the election, noting that many people don’t accept the outcome.

“The fact that our last two presidential elections have not been accepted as legitimate by large percentages of the American public is a serious problem that threatens our republic,” Johnson said. “I do not say that lightly.”

At the same time, Johnson repeatedly stated that there had been fraud in the election, an assertion rejected by multiple state and federal courts. Those comments prompted a shouting match with U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.

“Mr. Chairman, this is not about airing your grievances,” Peters told Johnson. “I don’t know what rabbit hole you’re running down.”