Trump Recently Urged a Powerful Legislator to Overturn His 2020 Defeat in Wisconsin

Donald J. Trump called a top Republican in the State Legislature in Wisconsin in recent days to lobby for a measure that would overturn his 2020 loss in the state to President Biden, the latest signal that the former president remains undaunted by congressional and criminal investigations into his election meddling.

Mr. Trump’s advisers said the former president saw an opening to press the Republican official, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, after a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling prohibited the use of most drop boxes for voters returning absentee ballots.

Since drop boxes were used during the 2020 election, Mr. Trump argued, the state should be able to invalidate the results of that election. He pushed Mr. Vos to support a resolution that would retract the state’s 10 electoral votes cast for Mr. Biden. Mr. Trump’s advisers said the phone call took place on July 9 — the day after the court issued its opinion.

There is no mechanism in Wisconsin law to rescind the state’s electoral votes, nor does the United States Constitution allow for a state’s presidential election to be overturned after Congress has accepted the results. Still, Mr. Trump has persisted.

Mr. Vos has repeatedly told Mr. Trump and his allies that decertifying the former president’s loss would violate the state’s Constitution.

Mr. Trump “has a different opinion,” Mr. Vos told a television station in Milwaukee, WISN-TV, which first reported the phone call on Tuesday. Mr. Vos did not respond to messages on Wednesday.

The call is only the latest indication that Mr. Trump remains fixated on nullifying the 2020 presidential contest 18 months after Mr. Biden replaced him in the White House. He has continued to prioritize his lies that he won the last election as he aims to influence the next one, signaling to his supporters that undermining the 2020 election should be the predominant issue for the party.

His actions come as a prosecutor in Georgia is gathering evidence into whether Mr. Trump violated laws in his attempt to overturn results in the state. Mr. Trump’s own team was already concerned about potential legal consequences from the deluge of devastating testimony revealed by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

And Mr. Trump may have created more legal headaches for himself when he phoned a witness in the House committee’s investigation after a hearing on June 29. Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a Republican serving as the panel’s vice chairwoman, has said information about Mr. Trump’s call to the witness has been turned over to the Justice Department.

In the past 10 days, Mr. Trump has endorsed candidates in Arizona and Oklahoma based in part on their support for his attempts to overturn the election or his criticisms of the House investigation.

“We won in 2020,” Mr. Trump said in a statement on Tuesday reiterating his endorsement of David Farnsworth for a State Senate seat in Arizona. Mr. Farnsworth is running against Rusty Bowers, who is the Republican speaker of the Arizona House and who has been critical of the former president’s attempts to overturn the election. In the statement, Mr. Trump called Mr. Bowers a “weak and pathetic” Republican who “didn’t have the guts to do anything about the rigged and stolen election.”

Mr. Trump has never stopped looking for ways to undo the results of the 2020 election, and his desire to keep talking about his false claims of widespread fraud has intensified as investigations into his conduct have become more focused.

In Arizona, a review of the 2020 vote failed to change the outcome and instead affirmed the result. Mr. Trump’s allies have come up empty in their bid to overturn the results in Georgia. In recent months, his allies have instead focused their attention on Wisconsin, where Mr. Vos has tried to accommodate Mr. Trump’s increasing demands about the 2020 election for more than a year.

When Mr. Trump called for an audit of the state’s votes days ahead of the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s 2021 state convention, Mr. Vos used the gathering to announce he would appoint a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, Michael Gableman, to investigate the election.

Mr. Vos repeatedly blocked efforts to hold a vote on decertification. Still, Mr. Vos met with leading proponents of decertification, something they held up as significant progress in their effort to undo the 2020 results.

Mr. Trump and his allies have since turned on Mr. Vos. The former president has used his social media website to press Mr. Vos to act, and he released a statement on Tuesday suggesting that his supporters back Mr. Vos’s primary opponent if he fails to act.

Mr. Vos is facing a spirited but underfunded primary challenger, Adam Steen, whose campaign hinges on the notion that Mr. Vos is not sufficiently loyal to Mr. Trump because he has blocked the decertification effort.

And while Mr. Vos has not seen eye to eye with Mr. Trump on the election, his allies know the former president still holds a powerful grip on the party.

An outside group supporting Mr. Vos in the primary recently mailed a flyer to Wisconsin Republicans with a picture of Mr. Vos and Mr. Trump sitting next to each other on a plane and smiling.

“Leading the fight for election integrity!” the flyer reads.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *