Representative Paul Mitchell of Michigan, a two-term Republican who voted for President Trump this year, said on Monday he would immediately sever ties with the Republican Party for his refusal to accept the president’s electoral defeat.
In a letter To senior GOP officials, Mitchell warned that elected Republicans could help Trump “do long-term damage to our democracy” by continuing to welcome and amplify baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud. He said he would become a political independent, although he was already planning to step down from Congress at the end of this year.
“It is unacceptable that political candidates treat our electoral system as if we are a third world nation and instigate distrust of something as basic as the sanctity of our vote,” he said. – he writes just after his state voted its 16 electoral votes for Mr Biden on Monday. He also denounced the Republican attacks on the Supreme Court, which on Friday dismissed a daring Texas lawsuit aimed at overturning the results in key battlefields, including Michigan.
One of the wealthiest members of Congress, Mr. Mitchell was first elected in 2016. He was a member of the Republican leadership and voted for himself in favor of the policies of the Trump administration 95% time.
But he emerged in the weeks following election day as one of Mr. Trump’s biggest criticisms, especially as lawyers for the president and his allies have made Michigan a major focus of their attempts to reverse the will of the voters.
Although other Republicans, like Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, have berated the president and his facilitators, Mr. Mitchell is the first elected member of Congress to leave the party since the election. Fellow Michigan Republican Representative Justin Amash left the party last year over concerns over Mr. Trump.
In his letter on Monday, Mr Mitchell said he supported the right of any candidate to demand recounts or challenge the results in court. But Mr. Trump and his legal team, he said, “failed to provide evidence of fraud or administrative failure on a scale large enough to impact the outcome of the election.”
“If Republican leaders collectively sit down and tolerate baseless conspiracy theories and ‘stop the theft’ of rallies without speaking out in favor of our electoral process, which the Department of Homeland Security has declared to be ‘the safest of the way’ American history, “our nation will be damaged,” wrote Mr. Mitchell, addressing his remarks to Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House leader.
He acknowledged that his own decision could be symbolic, but said it was necessary to respect his oath to protect and defend the Constitution. And, he added, “we all know symbols matter.”