Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., on Sunday wouldn’t commit to certifying the 2024 election results during an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
While interviewing Stefanik, who serves in House Republican leadership, moderator Kristen Welker asked, “Would you vote to certify, and will you vote to certify, the results of the 2024 election no matter what they show?”
Stefanik, who has boosted former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, said that she did not vote to certify the 2020 results in the state of Pennsylvania and several other states because there were “unconstitutional acts circumventing the state legislature and unilaterally changing election law.”
“We will see if this is a legal and valid election,” she said. “What we’re seeing so far is that Democrats are so desperate, they’re trying to remove President Trump from the ballot. That is a suppression of the American people. And the Supreme Court is taking that case up in February — that should be a nine to zero to allow President Trump to appear on the ballot because that’s the American people’s decision to make this November.”
Welker noted that she didn’t hear Stefanik commit to certifying the election results before asking, “Will you only commit to certifying the results if former President Trump wins? Does that mean only if former President Trump wins?”
“No, it means if they’re constitutional,” Stefanik said. “What we saw in 2020 was unconstitutional circumventing of the Constitution, not going through state legislators when it comes to changing election law.”
Stefanik also defended Trump’s recent remarks calling rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and remain in prison “hostages,” echoing that language herself. During a rally in Iowa on Saturday, Trump urged President Joe Biden to release the rioters from federal prison: “I call them hostages. Some people call them prisoners. I call them hostages. Release the J6 hostages, Joe. Release them, Joe. You can do it real easy, Joe.”
When asked if she stood by the comments that she made on the House floor calling Jan. 6 a “truly tragic day for America,” Stefanik said, “I have concerns about the treatment of Jan. 6 hostages.”
She added that she stood by her full speech on Jan. 6. “I condemned the violence just like I condemn the violence of the BLM riots, but I also importantly stood for election integrity and security of our elections,” Stefanik said.
Almost 900 people have been convicted in connection to the Jan. 6 attacks, and 718 of them pleaded guilty — each personally admitting to a federal judge under oath that they engaged in criminal conduct on Jan. 6. Eight-nine have pleaded guilty to felony charges of assaulting law enforcement officers, and another 76 were convicted at trial of assaulting officers.
Most Jan. 6 arrestees are released pre-trial. Only a small fraction of defendants are being held pre-trial, because judges determined the evidence against them was strong and that they were a danger to the community, or because they violated their conditions of release.
Hundreds of additional people who participated in the Jan. 6 riot have not yet been arrested. On Saturday, the three-year anniversary of the attack, the FBI captured three fugitives accused of taking part that day.
Biden on Friday rebuked Trump in his first campaign speech of the year, arguing the former president is waging an “assault on democracy” and puts American institutions at risk: “I’ll say what Donald Trump won’t: Political violence is never, ever acceptable in the United States,” Biden said, adding: “It has no place in democracy. None.”
Stefanik argued that Biden and Democrats pose a “threat to democracy.”
“We see them attempting to remove President Trump from the ballot. We saw this in Colorado and Maine,” she said. “That is the suppression of the American people and the American people’s ability to cast their ballots this November. So it’s Democrats that are a threat to democracy.”
Biden deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks responded to Stefanik in his own appearance on “Meet the Press,” saying: “I’m not sure that this ‘I know you are, but what am I’ situation is going to work when it comes to democracy.”
Stefanik also dismissed the backlash to Trump’s remarks last month referring to migrants as “poisoning the blood” of America.
“This is language that the Biden campaign, others says ‘is parroting Adolf Hitler.’ Are you comfortable with former President Trump’s comments?” Welker asked.
After calling the media biased, Stefanik replied: “Our border crisis is poisoning Americans through fentanyl. It is poisoning people, including in my district, who are dying from overdoses of fentanyl. And you know why? Because of Joe Biden’s wide-open border. ... So yes, I stand by President Trump.”
In a separate interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., defended Trump’s “poisoning the blood” statement, arguing “that’s not language I would use” but that he understands Trump’s “admonition.”
“He’s been saying this since he ran for president the first time that we have to secure the border, and I think the vast majority of the American people understand the necessity of that, and I think they agree with his position,” Johnson said, adding that Trump’s remarks are “not hateful” because what the former president “is trying to advance is his America-first priority.”
Asked whether she would serve as Trump’s vice president if asked, Stefanik repeatedly dodged the question and declined to indicate whether she has spoken with him about the VP slot.
“I’d be honored to serve in any capacity in a Trump administration. I’m proud to be the first member of Congress to endorse his re-election,” she said. “I’m proud to be a strong supporter of President Trump, and he’s going to win this November.”