A Michigan Republican refused to rule out violence in electoral college protests. Now he’s lost his committee seats. – Washington Post

A Michigan Republican refused to rule out violence in electoral college protests. Now he’s lost his committee seats. – Washington Post

Hours before electors met in Michigan’s state capitol on Monday to cast their ballots for President-elect Joe Biden, state Rep. Gary Eisen (R) warned a radio host that he was working with an unnamed group to mount a “dangerous” protest to pressure them into backing President Trump instead.

“No,” Eisen said. “I don’t know. Because what we’re doing today is uncharted.”

Fellow Republicans in the State House quickly condemned Eisen’s on-air comments, which they described as a violent threat, and stripped Eisen’s committee assignments for the rest of the legislative session.

“Threats of violence, or a refusal to denounce it, will not be tolerated in the Michigan House,” Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) said on Twitter on Monday. “We will not condone this behavior. In a Republic, we settle our differences on Election Day.”

In a joint statement with Michigan House Speaker-elect Jason Wentworth (R), Chatfield added that elected officials “must be held to a higher standard.”

Although Monday’s electoral college vote was ultimately peaceful nationwide, the threat of violence hung over the usually procedural effort as Trump has continued his attempts to undermine the results.

Michigan’s capitol building had already been closed Monday after officials received credible threats of violence. Eisen told WPHM that someone had called in a bomb threat from Wisconsin, prompting police to close the building as a precaution, preventing Trump supporters from protesting the electors as they voted inside.

Last week, amid the escalating tension around Michigan’s election results, another state representative was also removed from her committee assignments after she harshly rebuked Trump supporters who had been sending her harassing messages and threats.

“You Trumpers, be careful,” state Rep. Cynthia A. Johnson, a Democrat, said in response to lynching threats she received after criticizing Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. “Walk lightly,” she added.

Intimidation against Michigan politicians has not been in short supply this year.

Armed protesters stormed the capitol building in April. In May, they returned with guns, an ax and a brunette doll hanging from a noose. Police charged more than a dozen men in October for allegedly planning to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), inspired in part by Trump’s escalating rhetoric challenging her coronavirus restrictions. Earlier this month, a group of people, some with guns, targeted Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) outside her home as she finished putting up Christmas decorations with her 4-year-old son.

Despite the threats in Lansing, only a small crowd of Trump supporters showed up to protest the electoral college vote Monday. Eisen told WPHM he felt an obligation to help those Trump supporters in their efforts to reverse Biden’s win until every legal challenge had been exhausted.

“I’m on a football team and we have one more play,” he told the station. “Am I going to just give up? Or am I going to do the Hail Mary?”

After he was removed from his committee assignments on Monday, Eisen released a statement disavowing political violence.

“I regret the confusion over my comments this morning, and I want to assure everyone that those of us who are supporting an alternative slate of electors intend to do so peacefully and legally,” Eisen said in a statement, the Detroit Free-Press reported. “I wanted to attend today’s event to help prevent violence, not promote it.”

Published at Tue, 15 Dec 2020 10:02:00 +0000

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Written by Riel Roussopoulos


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