WASHINGTON — Key senators working to revise the little-known law that former President Donald J. Trump and his allies tried to use to undo the 2020 election promised Sunday that their legislation would pass the Senate, saying that recent revelations about the plot made their work even more important.
In a joint interview on DailyExpertNews’s “State of the Union,” Senators Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, said their efforts to rewrite the Electoral Count Act of 1887 had wider support in the Senate. , with as many as 20 senators taking part in the discussions.
“Absolutely, it will pass,” Mr Manchin said of a review of the law, which dictates how Congress formalizes elections.
He said Mr Trump and his allies’ efforts to exploit “ambiguity” in the law “triggered the uprising” — the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. That misreading of the statute led to a plan by Mr. Trump and his allies to rally a crowd outside the Capitol to try and get Congress and Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the official count of Congressional electoral votes. , to undo the results of the elections. election.
Ms Murkowski said the rewrite could be extended to include other safeguards for democracy, such as crackdown on threats and intimidation of election workers.
“We want to make sure that if you’re going to be an election officer,” Ms Murkowski said, “you don’t feel intimidated or threatened or harassed.”
A bipartisan group of at least 15 senators — including Mr. Manchin and Ms. Murkowski and led by Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins — recently began talks with another group of top Democrats who have been studying the issue for months. That group includes Senator Angus King, independent of Maine; Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota; and Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat from Illinois.
Mr King’s group last week released a draft bill for a rewrite of the Electoral Count Act that would address the flaws exposed by Mr Trump’s plan. The bill would clarify that the vice president does not have the power to dismiss a state’s voters and ensure that state lawmakers cannot appoint voters after Election Day in an effort to undo their state’s election results.
It would also give states additional time to complete legitimate recounts and lawsuits; provide for limited judicial review to ensure that state-appointed voters reflect popular voting results in the state; list specific and limited grounds for objections to voters or electoral votes; raise the thresholds for Congress to consider objections; and make it more difficult to substantiate objections without broad support from both houses of Congress.
In an interview with DailyExpertNews, Mr. King called his group’s concept “very impartial” and said it included input from conservative and liberal legal scholars.
“Hopefully we can join forces and get a good bill,” Mr King said of Ms Collins’ group.
The latest effort to clarify the law follows a string of revelations about a campaign by Mr. Trump and his allies to try to undo the 2020 election, including the surfacing of memos showing the roots of attempts to recruit so-called alternative voters. to keep Mr Trump in power and the former president’s exploration of proposals to confiscate voting machines.
On Friday, Mr. Pence offered his strongest rebuke of Mr. Trump’s plan, saying the former president was “wrong” in insisting that Mr. Pence had legal authority to undo the results of the election. . Those comments came the same day the Republican National Committee voted to censor two party members, Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, in a resolution that described the Jan. 6 events as “legitimate political discourse.”
Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger are the only Republican members of the House special committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, which injured more than 150 police officers and killed several.
The resolution was criticized Sunday by some congressional Republicans.
Texas Republican Representative Michael McCaul said on ABC’s “This Week” that he “disagreeed with that statement — if it applies to those who have committed crime and violence to overtake our sanctuary of democracy.”
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Marc Short, Mr. Pence’s former chief of staff, said that “I didn’t see much legitimate political discourse from my front row.”
Mr. Short blamed Mr. Trump’s pressure to reverse the election on “a lot of bad advisers who were basically snake oil salesmen, giving him really random and new ideas about what the vice president might do.”
He described being taken with Mr. Pence to a secure room in the Capitol on January 6 when rioters stormed the building, some chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.” He said Mr Trump and Mr Pence did not speak that day.
mr. Short and another top aide to Pence, Greg Jacob, recently testified before the committee, a move Mr. Pence’s advisers had hoped would stop the committee issuing a subpoena for Mr. Pence. Mr. Pence’s representatives have been negotiating with the committee’s lawyers for months.
“That would be a pretty unprecedented step for the committee to take,” Mr. Short said of a subpoena for the former vice president, adding that it “would be very difficult for me to see that scenario unfold.”
Emily Cochrane and Chris Cameron reporting contributed.