Open letter to State Rep Harry Arora and State Rep-elect Kim Fiorello

Submitted by John Cooper, Dana Gordon, Janet McMahon and Jonathan Perloe

On the Saturday following Election Day, CNN called the presidential election for former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. Within minutes, other news organizations, including Fox News, quickly followed. But more than a week later, President Trump still refuses to concede. Far worse, and abetted by a shocking array of Congressional Republicans, Trump is engaging in a wholesale attack on our democracy unprecedented in American history.

To protect our democracy, Republican elected officials at every level should rebuke President Trump’s behavior by publicly recognizing Joe Biden as the president-elect and insisting Mr. Trump move forward with a peaceful and orderly transition of power. More than 150 Greenwich and Stamford residents who signed this petition are calling on you, State Representative Harry Arora and State Representative-elect Kimberly Fiorello, to do just this, thereby reassuring us that you stand with the voters of Greenwich of and Stamford, not Donald Trump. We commend Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo for his tweet wishing president-elect Joe Biden success as the 46th President of the United States.

Beginning with President Trump’s false statement of victory on election night, he has continued with a torrent of tweets making patently false claims about voter fraud, irregularities and “thieves” stealing the election from him. On one after another of his tweets, Twitter has posted “This claim about election fraud is disputed.” If Trump continues, he will be alone among presidential candidates in refusing to concede once the results of the election have become conclusive. 

Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, one of the most sacred principles of American democracy, is an outrage. With the president sabotaging the transition at every turn, national security experts warn of “dangerous gaps” in protecting the country from hostile actors. More immediately, Trump’s refusal to authorize transition planning to address the pandemic threatens the lives of all Americans.

While the president’s disrespect for democratic norms is to be expected, the greater threat to our country comes from the upper echelons of the Republican establishment, who are lending credence to, and outright supporting, Trump’s demonstrably false assertion that he won the election.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) is hiding behind legal fig leaves by saying the president is “100 percent within his rights” to litigate the election, despite not having a shred of evidence of the massive voting fraud that Trump campaign and GOP lawsuits allege, most of which have been dismissed. Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State revealed that Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked him to throw out every single mail-in ballot from counties with higher rates of mismatched signatures, a move that, if true, would be a crime under Georgia law.

In yet another directive that defiles the Justice Department’s reputation of remaining above politics, Attorney General William Barr authorized federal prosecutors to investigate voting irregularities before results are certified, upending a longstanding policy intended to keep the department from influencing election outcomes. One of the most egregious announcements comes from the nation’s spokesperson to the world, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who announced, “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”  

Across the nation, former Republican elected officials are sounding an alarm. Former Missouri Senator John Danforth released a statement saying “President Trump’s purpose is to undermine Americans’ belief in the legitimacy of the election and therefore in the foundation of our democracy. He is causing incalculable damage to our country.” Will Hurd, the Republican Congressman from Texas who did not seek reelection, labeled Trump’s unfounded charges “dangerous” and observed that he is attacking the “the very foundation this nation was built upon.″ Maryland GOP governor Larry Hogan said the president’s “frivolous lawsuits” are “absolutely wrong for the country” because they are “undermining our democratic process.”

Experts believe Trump’s attacks on the legitimacy of the election will be long lasting. Jonathan Gienapp, a Stanford University history professor wrote, “Trump’s refusal to concede and his congressional allies’ refusal to object to what he is doing is indeed most dangerous. If it continues to be given oxygen, it’s hard not to think that there could be lasting damage to the republic.” Princeton professor of history Sean Wilentz wrote that Trump’s refusal to concede, “would be a brutal renunciation of American democracy.”

The right-wing media echo chamber is amplifying the president’s assault on the election. NewsMax host Carl Higbie, a Greenwich resident and disgraced former Trump administration official, posted a video on Facebook spreading misinformation that calls into question the legitimacy of the election, remarking, “I’m highly skeptical and you should be too.” The video has been viewed more than 16 million times and drew its own rebuke from Facebook: “Voter fraud is extremely rare.” But the falsehoods are taking hold. A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll reported that 70 percent of Republicans don’t believe the election was free and fair, nearly double the proportion who believed so before the election.

If Donald Trump wants to tilt at windmills in his quest to overturn the popular will, he is, as Mitch McConnell says, “within his rights.” That does not give Republicans license to join his mission to tear down our democracy. There is absolutely no merit to Trump’s claim that the election was stolen from him. Based on its interviews with top election officials in every state, both Democratic and Republican, The New York Times concluded, “the process had been a remarkable success despite record turnout and the complications of a dangerous pandemic.”

To allow the nation to heal and move forward we are calling on you, our Republican state legislators representing Greenwich and Stamford to come to the defense of our country by publicly calling on President Trump to concede, and insist that he allow the transition to move forward. We urge you to help protect our centuries-long tradition of peacefully transferring power from one president to the next. Saving our republic demands—and deserves—no less. 

Readers, please click here if you would like to add your name to our letter to Rep. Arora and Rep.-elect Fiorello.