U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, a Republican from Murphysboro who represents Monroe County as part of Illinois’ 12th congressional district, was among the 147 GOP lawmakers who objected to the electoral votes from Pennsylvania and Arizona last Wednesday.
Bost said he objected to certifying those votes because those states – which both flipped to the side of Democrat President-elect Joe Biden in November – changed their election process through means other than their state legislatures.
He argued that violated Article II Section 1 Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution.
“I think it is very clear that we needed to send the message to the states: don’t do that again. Have your state legislatures do it,” Bost told the Republic-Times.
In Arizona, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals extended the voter registration deadline to Oct. 15.
In Pennsylvania, state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, extended the state’s mail-in ballot return deadline to 5 p.m. Nov. 6. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court also ruled that ballots could not be rejected due to a perceived signature mismatch and OK’d the use of drop boxes for returning those ballots.
The number of politicians who voted to object to the results was already unprecedented in modern history, but the day became truly unparalleled when a crowd of rioters who appear to have been supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol, forcing the building to be put on lockdown and lawmakers to be escorted to safety.
Over 80 people have been arrested and charged in connection with that attack. Six people have died as a result of the riot, including Capitol Police officers Brain Sicknick and Howard Libengood, and participant Ashli Babbitt, who a law enforcement officer shot when she attempted to break into a barricaded area of the building.
The attack has been widely condemned to varying degrees. The participants have been called everything from patriots, to protestors, to rioters, to insurrectionists, to terrorists.
Bost called the assault a “siege” that was “un-American.”
“I’m brokenhearted and frustrated that our Capitol was stormed,” Bost said. “The last time that the Capitol was stormed and had that much damage, it was at least a foreign government that did it in (The War of) 1812. The bad thing is this was our citizens.”
Bost further noted peaceful protests occur around the Capitol building every day, and he said he was “all for” those who remained peaceful and in the unrestricted areas to protest.
“Whether it is Antifa, whether it is Black Lives Matter, whether it is the Trump rally people, you have the right in this nation to a free and peaceful protest under our First Amendment,” Bost said. “But the moment you start endangering lives, coming in contact with people physically and damaging property, that is not a peaceful protest.”
Bost said he would let investigators determine who was in the crowd that attacked the building.
There has so far been no evidence to support theories that left-wing infiltrators hidden among the crowd incited the violence, and many of those arrested and charged are known right-wing supporters. Many also boasted of their actions on social media.
Bost was not actually in the House when the attack occurred. He was in his office in the nearby Longworth House Office Building just south of the Capitol.
He was watching events unfold on TV and when the protest escalated, he stepped out onto the porch to see what was happening.
Then he heard communications over the radios of Capitol Police officers stationed outside.
“All of a sudden, over their radios, we heard ‘I need reinforcements on the west side. We’re losing it. We’re losing it,’” Bost recounted. “The next thing I heard, I am pretty sure, was a riot grenade. I looked at my staff and said ‘we’re going back to the office.’”
He said the violence never made him consider changing his objection votes.
“My vote was not made on the emotions of people. My vote was made on the Constitution,” Bost said.
Some Republican senators decided not to object after the violence, which decreased the number of states objected to.
Bost also stressed the attack was ineffective in that it only delayed the process of certifying the votes, saying he and other members of Congress were only doing what they believed was their “Constitutional duty.”
For Bost, that meant objecting to the certification of electoral college votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania, and he said he would have objected to other states that similarly changed procedures without going through their legislatures.
“The amount of fraud and whether it did happen or whether it didn’t happen, as a member of Congress it is not my job to determine that,” Bost emphasized. “That is up to the state prosecutors, federal prosecutors if there was federal law violated, and the courts.”
Bost said he believed at least some fraud did occur.
The Trump campaign has filed as many as 62 lawsuits – including over a dozen in Pennsylvania and Arizona – alleging fraud and other election irregularities.
Over 80 judges appointed by Democrats and Republicans have dismissed or rejected 61 of those cases at the local, state, federal and Supreme Court levels. The one win for the Trump campaign was a minor one in Pennsylvania that would not have changed the outcome.
Similarly, former Attorney General William Barr said there was no widespread voter fraud, as did the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency, which was created for the purpose of election security.
Bost also said he knew it was unlikely the votes would be overturned.
“Your vote isn’t based on the final outcome. Your vote is based on the question that is before you,” Bost said. “This wasn’t for political purposes. Politically, there is no win on this. I had to do what the Constitution says.”
The Senate and House both voted to certify the votes, confirming again that Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.
Bost accepted the defeat, pointedly saying he will “not take up arms against (his) government” in its wake.
“I’ve done everything that I know how to do to send a clear statement that I have problems with those votes. But I lost,” he said. “Therefore, on Inauguration Day, we will and should have a smooth transition of power because that’s what we do. If we don’t, we send a very, very bad message to our allies, but also our enemies.”
After the violence, there have been calls from almost everyone to punish those who unlawfully entered the Capitol – though some have also argued individuals who incited violence should be punished.
There have also been calls to put the historic events behind us in an effort to heal and unify.
There have additionally been calls for punishment for those members of Congress who voted not to certify the election results, with those politicians being called “treasonous” and “seditious” by some individuals and being accused of seeking to overturn the will of Americans.
Bost rebuked that idea.
“They should talk to the forefathers who gave us the power to do it,” Bost said of people with that viewpoint before highlighting he and his family’s history of public service in politics and the military. “Anybody who would say it’s treasonous, they are part of the problem, not the solution.”
While people can disagree on those statements, many agree the violence and objection votes at the Capitol illustrate the increasingly dangerous divide in American politics.
Bost said that has widened because of individuals’ distrust in the election process, though he declined to specifically say how that distrust was created.
“When you see things that have shown up in the news, on the internet, factual or not, it puts a question in the hearts and minds of people,” he said.
To restore that trust, Bost said people should get involved in their local politics.
“What they need to do is not quit voting, but start going to their state legislatures,” he said. “(I) encourage them to make sure election law is put into place where it is an opportunity for every person’s vote to count once.”
For an example of how people should disagree, Bost said the internal Republican debate on certification is an exemplar, as the GOP had a “very intense debate” for around three hours.
“I walked out of there knowing that’s the way it’s supposed to work,” Bost said. “I disagreed with some of them and some of them disagreed with me, but guess what? We’re still friends. We’re still moving toward the right goal.”