Rep. Paul Mitchell, a two-term Republican from Michigan, said Monday that he was severing ties with the GOP over fears that President Donald Trump’s allies could soon cause “long-term harm to our democracy” as they continue to spread misinformation about the 2020 election.
“I have stated publicly numerous times that when entering the political arena, a person must be willing to accept winning and losing with grace and maturity,” wrote Mitchell, who said he voted for Trump in November, in a letter he shared on Twitter.
He later added: “It is unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote.”
Mitchell, who was first elected in 2016, already planned to retire from Congress at the end of this term and his decision is largely ceremonial.
“While admittedly symbolic,” he wrote, “we all know that symbols matter.”
The lawmaker elaborated on his decision later Monday, telling CNN he had grown increasingly frustrated as Trump filed and lost a bevy of court cases seeking to undermine the results of the election. Mitchell noted that he had voted in line with the White House “more than 95% of the time,” but could no longer do so.
“As I saw that amicus brief, as well as discussions over the week in the national media, it became clear to me that I could no longer be associated with the Republican Party” after leadership failed to “stand up and say that the process, the election is over,” he told CNN.
“I’ve had enough.”
Trump has so far refused to concede to President-elect Joe Biden, spreading lies about election fraud without any evidence to back them up. The Electoral College officially voted on Monday to confirm Biden’s win last month. The votes will be tallied by Congress on Jan. 6 and Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20 (it’s unclear if Trump will attend that ceremony).
Mitchell said in his letter that any candidate had the right to request a recount if they have concerns about an election, but noted that Trump and his legal team had failed to provide any evidence “on a scale large enough to impact the outcome” of the vote.
“I believe that raw political considerations, not constitutional or voting integrity concerns, motivate many in party leadership to support the ‘stop the steal’ efforts, which is extremely disappointing to me,” Mitchell wrote. “As elected members of Congress, we take an oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States,’ not to preserve and protect the political interests of any individual, be it the president or anyone else, to the detriment of our cherished nation.”