Zeldin Still Not Acknowledging Biden Victory, Defends Trump Attacks On Election

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President Donald J. Trump with U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin at Gabreski Airport in 2018. DANA SHAW

U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin defended President Donald Trump’s attacks on the American electoral system this week while also joining with the president in refusing to recognize Joe Biden as the president-elect.

On Tuesday, a day after the Electoral College cast its votes in accordance with each state’s vote tally, giving President-elect Biden a 306-232 victory, Mr. Zeldin cited “a huge systemic issue” that is “far bigger than a presidential election” as his justification for holding on to the position that the election results certified by all 50 states were not legally sound. He maintains that actions by Democrats in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia “changed the direction of the outcome.”

He would not rule out supporting a last-ditch challenge to the Electoral College results on the House floor on January 6.

Mr. Zeldin was one of 126 Republican members of the House who signed on to a legal brief filed by lawyers for Mr. Trump in support of a lawsuit brought by the Texas attorney general, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the Electoral College votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia, where support for Mr. Biden tipped the election in his favor.

The Texas lawsuit claimed election protocols adopted in those states to accommodate the challenges of holding an election during the coronavirus pandemic violated constitutional guidelines on the regulation of elections and should invalidate their results.

The Supreme Court refused to even hear the arguments in the case.

But in an interview this week, Mr. Zeldin hung his lingering skepticism about the validity of the election results primarily on the claims laid out in the widely criticized case — nearly all of which have been debunked as either wholly untrue or of having had no impact on the outcome of the election.

The congressman, who was elected this fall to a fourth term, said that Pennsylvania “sending out millions of absentee ballots,” and “signature verification” procedures there and in Georgia, violated election law guidelines.

“You have state legislatures setting laws about signature verification, voter ID, vote by mail, drop boxes, observations and objections — those rules are set into law,” Mr. Zeldin said. “Then you have some bureaucrat in another branch of government choosing to make up their own rules. In Pennsylvania, you had the secretary of state setting her own rule on key aspects of how the election was run as it relates to signature verification.

Unfortunately, the nature of these decisions that were made in these states changed the direction of the outcome.”

Mr. Trump lost in a “landslide” — using his own estimations of his 2016 victory, which came by the same split in Electoral College votes as his defeat in 2020.

But the president has refused to concede, even though election officials in those states, Democrats and Republicans alike, have said there was no fraud and no missteps in the execution of the election process.

When asked if he thinks that Mr. Trump should concede now that the Electoral College votes have been officially cast, Mr. Zeldin said the point is moot, since the president clearly isn’t going to concede, nor stop his attacks on the election process for “a long time.”

The congressman would not rule out supporting a challenge from Republican congressmen to the Electoral College count when the tally of electors is brought to the House floor for validation on January 6.

“I’m aware of a colleague who wants to bring a challenge on the House floor,” Mr. Zeldin said of Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, who has said he will object to Congress validating the Electoral College tally. “I look forward to finding out more details about what his objections are.”

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