Trump pressured top Wisconsin Republican to decertify 2020 results, then threatened him — last week

Trump falsely claimed an unrelated court ruling on ballot drop boxes "means I won" Wisconsin

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published July 20, 2022 9:23AM (EDT)

Donald Trump (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Donald Trump (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump is still waging his campaign to reverse his 2020 election loss more than 20 months later, issuing a thinly veiled threat to a top Wisconsin Republican who rebuffed his request to decertify the state's results.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told WISN-TV that Trump pressured him on a call last week to somehow decertify the state's results after the state Supreme Court restricted the use of ballot drop boxes. The court ruling banned the future use of most drop boxes but the case had nothing to do with the last election and left open the door for lawmakers to pass legislation codifying the use of drop boxes.

Trump falsely claimed on his Twitter knockoff Truth Social that the ruling "means I won the very closely contested (not actually!) Wisconsin Presidential race because they used these corrupt and scandal-ridden Scam Boxes." There has been no evidence of any wrongdoing or irregularities related to drop boxes and the court did not rule on the merits of their use.

Trump then called Vos after the ruling to demand he use the ruling as a pretense to decertify the state's 2020 election results — even though there is no legal mechanism to do so.

"It's very consistent," Vos told WISN. "He makes his case, which I respect. He would like us to do something different in Wisconsin. I explained it's not allowed under the constitution. He has a different opinion, and then he put out the tweet. So that's it."

Trump after the call lashed out at Vos on Truth Social.

"Looks like Speaker Robin Vos, a long time professional RINO always looking to guard his flank, will be doing nothing about the amazing Wisconsin Supreme Court decision," he wrote. "What a waste of brilliant and courageous decision by Wisconsin's Highest Court. The Democrats would like to sincerely thank Robin, and all of his fellow RINOs, for letting them get away with 'murder.'"

Vos explained that the ruling had nothing to do with Trump's election loss.

"The court case as you read it does not go back and say what happened in 2020 was illegal. It just says going forward it can't happen," he told the outlet. "I think we all know Donald Trump is Donald Trump. There's very little we can do to control or predict what he will do," he added.

Trump on Tuesday went further, seemingly threatening to back Vos' Republican primary challenger Adam Steen unless he cedes to his demands.

"So what's Speaker Robin Vos doing on the Great Wisconsin Supreme Court Ruling declaring hundreds of thousands of Drop Box votes to be illegal?" he wrote. "This is not a time for him to hide, but a time to act! I don't know his opponent in the upcoming Primary, but feel certain he will do well if Speaker Vos doesn't move with gusto. Robin, don't let the voters of Wisconsin down!"

Vos has pushed debunked conspiracy theories that there was widespread fraud in the election amid pressure from far-right activists and last year ordered a taxpayer-funded investigation into the election that has turned up no evidence of widespread fraud. That clearly has not pacified Trump or his allies. Trump last year accused Vos of "working hard to cover up election corruption" because he refused to order a so-called forensic audit of the election like the failed audit in Arizona's Maricopa County.

Vos said at the time that Trump was "misinformed."

"When I saw the president's statement, it surprised me because many on the left have been going after us harder than I have ever seen, because in Wisconsin, we have hired investigators, we have passed legislation and we are doing a forensic audit already," he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "So I think this is one of those cases where the president was just misinformed by his staff or he didn't see the media reports."

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Vos' latest comments came just two days before the House January 6 committee's upcoming primetime hearing on Trump's role in fueling the Capitol riot, which came after he spent months pressuring state officials to not certify and later to decertify his losses in contested states. In one case, Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to pressure him to "find" just enough votes to reverse his loss. The call and other Trump efforts to steal the election in Georgia are now under investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Willis and the Justice Department are also investigating fake electors involved in Trump's Jan. 6 strategy.

Trump legal adviser John Eastman, who crafted the former president's strategy to block the certification of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, has also continued to pressure Vos and Wisconsin officials to start "reclaiming the electors" and go ahead with "either a do-over or having a new slate of electors seated that would declare someone else the winner," according to ABC News. Eastman held a similar meeting in Colorado and boasted about his involvement in lawsuits to overturn the election in Pennsylvania and Georgia. Other Trump allies like MyPillow founder Mike Lindell have also continued to pressure election officials to decertify the 2020 results, which is legally impossible.

 "I still believe that the Constitution and my oath that I took as an elected official does not allow me to decertify any election whether I want to or not," Vos told reporters in March. "That's not going to happen."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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