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Former GOP congressman likens Trump’s voting claims to ‘a little tantrum’

The deep divisions in American politics are also on display within the Republican Party since the election. Many GOP officials are standing with President Trump as he makes false claims about election fraud. Some have remained silent, and still others are calling Trump’s allegations “unacceptable.” Former Missouri Congressman Tom Coleman is among the last group. He joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The deep political divisions in this country can also be found this week within the Republican Party.

    A majority of elected GOP officials are standing with the president's unproven claims about election fraud. A number remain silent.

    But here now, a sampling of some of that support.

  • Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio:

    Seventy-two million Americans instinctively know something's not right here.

    And if you just look at the state of Pennsylvania, where the unequal treatment of the voters in that state, some counties allowed voters to cure their ballots. Some didn't. Some counties allow pre-canvassing of ballots. Some didn't. Some counties allowed the satellite voting offices. Some counties didn't.

    And you can imagine which counties allowed those things to happen. What are the Democrats trying to hide?

  • Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.:

    Right now, you have got half this country that has doubts about the veracity of this election. And that's why the process that exists in the law — there's a long process in the law that exists after the election, before the results are certified.

    That process has to be allowed to move forward. Otherwise, we're going to have a result here that half the country will harbor significant doubts about. And that's bad for the country. That's why both sides should be welcoming having this process be open, transparent, and according to the rights afforded to both candidates by the law.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    On the other side of the divide, more than 30 former Republican lawmakers are calling his allegations of voter fraud unacceptable.

    Former Missouri Congressman Tom Coleman is one of them. And he joins me now.

    Tom Coleman, thank you so much for talking with us.

    The president says fraud has been committed and the American people deserve to know what happened, and he's pursuing multiple lawsuits. He's within his rights to do that, isn't he?

  • Tom Coleman:

    Yes, he is.

    You have a close call in some of these states. And this was a very close election in some states. And, gradually, Joe Biden has extended his lead in most of the questionable states that are still out.

    But, yes, a candidate has a right to do that, within certain limitations. The problem is, the president has filed seven lawsuits that I personally know of, and all of them have been tossed by the courts. They are absolutely baseless and without foundation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, when you hear, as we have just a few moments ago heard, Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio talking about things that he says went wrong or should be looked into in Pennsylvania, he said some counties allow voters to cure their ballots, some didn't, some counties allow pre-canvassing of ballots, some didn't, I mean, are those the kinds of things that would call an election result into question?

  • Tom Coleman:

    No, and certainly not.

    All the states have been polled by The New York Times, and it's in this morning's paper, and none of the elected officials that are in charge of the elections found any fraud, any irregularities, other than the normal one when you have 150 million people voting.

    So, this is all something ginned up by the president to create more chaos on his way out the door. And we have had four years of chaos. The public didn't like it, and they voted him out of office. It's hard for him to take.

    This is just a little tantrum by the president. But, at the same time, Judy, he is putting our national security interests in very big limbo here, because we don't know what's going on in the Pentagon, and we don't know what's going on in other agencies, where Biden people have not been able to go in and start making their transition.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What is your worry? I mean, what do you fear could happen if this drags on?

  • Tom Coleman:

    Well, in the first place, he's trying to undermine the legitimacy of the outcome, just like he tried to undermine Barack Obama for not being allegedly born in the United States.

    The birther issue is what got Donald Trump on the political map. And he's trying to do to Joe Biden what he tried to do to Barack Obama. It didn't work then, and it's not going to work now.

    But if people, enough people in the country lose faith in our democracy and our ability to choose our elected officials through a fair and free election, we're in a heap of trouble, and that's what I think this could end up being.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But, as someone who served in the Congress — you were a Republican when you served in the Congress for 16 years. What do you make of the fact that the vast majority of elected Republicans right now in the Congress are backing the president up and saying, we need to go through with this, the president's in the right?

  • Tom Coleman:

    Well, I guess one word would be disappointment, extreme disappointment.

    Unfortunately, I think we have seen for four years the inability of Congress to be an independent branch of government. They are — all the Republicans who are in the majority, at least in the Senate, have tied themselves to this president.

    I don't know what it would take, because we have a pandemic of 250,000 Americans have died through it. It's rising and spiking as we speak. And what has the president been doing? Playing golf and considering all these charges, these counterfeit charges he's putting out about the election.

    This is the reason he's being voted out of office. I mean, it's unreal that people will stand with him this long. We had a great election. We had a turnout of record proportions. And, for that, the public deserves to know that their votes counted.

    And all of this business about Jim Jordan stirring the pot in Pennsylvania, the people in Pennsylvania don't see this. And there are Republicans and Democrats all over this country. This is something that they have manufactured to try to destroy, I guess, Joe Biden's administration before it takes office. And it's wrong.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But you not only have members of Congress. You have the leader of the Senate majority in Mitch McConnell saying the president is — needs to be allowed to pursue this.

  • Tom Coleman:

    Well, and I did — said that, too.

    I think you have to look at Mitch McConnell's words very closely. He hasn't really stood tall during the Trump administration. But he did not say, and he did not throw his entire lot in with what the president is doing.

    So, yes, he will let him go ahead and file a few more fallacious lawsuits and see what happens, but I think, again, politics over country. He knows that there are two open Senate seats in the state of Georgia, which would mean the majority either the Republicans or the Democrats taking control of the body in January.

    And so he is not going to alienate this Trump base. This is all about the Trump base, getting them riled up so that, at least in Georgia, they will want to go out and serve the president as he is leaving.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Former Missouri Republican Congressman Tom Coleman, thank you very much for talking the us.

  • Tom Coleman:

    Thank you, Judy.

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