News & Politics

Jen Psaki Uses Capitol Riot to Justify Federal Takeover of Elections

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki used the Capitol riot on January 6 to justify the Democrats’ sweeping federal takeover of election laws in H.R. 1 and S.R. 1, the “For the People” Act.

A journalist asked Psaki about the Republican-majority legislatures that have passed laws on voting. “What leverage do you actually have and what, realistically, do you think you can accomplish in some of these red states?” the reporter asked.

Psaki did not address working with Republican-dominated legislators. Instead, she said these new laws show the need for “a federal approach.”

“I think it’s important to remember why we’re at this point,” Psaki said. “State legislatures, as you referenced, across the country are passing a wave of anti-voter laws based on the same repeatedly disproven lies that led to an assault on our nation’s capital. They are putting these laws in place because they did not like the outcome and they’ve continued to perpetuate a lie about the outcome of the election. That’s why we’re here.”

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Rather than engaging with Republicans, Psaki said President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will engage with “voting rights groups,” Democrats, and a few Republicans “who are supportive of expanding access to voting around the country.”

As the Senate was primed to consider S.R. 1 on Tuesday, Psaki declared that “the fight is not over” and that “no matter the outcome today, [the fight] is going to continue.”

When another reporter pressed Psaki on Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s (D-N.Y.) complaints that Biden has not pushed H.R. 1 hard enough, the press secretary doubled down on her assertions.

She said Biden is “absolutely revolted by the wave of anti-voter laws based on the same repeatedly disproven lies that led to an assault on our nation’s capital.” She insisted that the Biden administration “shares the desire to fight against efforts by many Republicans to suppress the vote around the country.”

Yet the election integrity laws that Republicans are passing in states like Georgia do not constitute attacks on voters. The “anti-voter” smear seems particularly rich coming from Biden, whose home state of Delaware has far more restrictive voting laws than Georgia.

Sadly, Psaki’s remarks fall in line with Biden’s repeated false assertion that the election integrity laws are “Jim Crow on steroids.” In pushing this narrative, Biden told outright lies about the legislation. For instance, The Washington Post gave Biden four Pinocchios for repeatedly claiming that the Georgia law “ends voting hours early.” In fact, the bill extended voting hours.

The Republican election integrity laws across the country have nothing to do with racism or attacking voters and everything to do with correcting election irregularities that plagued the 2020 election, such as ballot drop-boxes with insecure chains of custody and the widespread mailing of mail-in ballots using outdated voter lists.

Time magazine even published an astonishing story about a “cabal” and a “shadow campaign” that pulled the levers behind the scenes in the 2020 election. While the article claims these efforts aimed at preserving a free and fair election, organizations like the Center for Tech and Civic Life funneled money into blue areas of the country, boosting turnout that helped Biden prevail.

Rather than address these serious concerns, Democrats resort to crying racism. Meanwhile, they are pushing a federal takeover of elections. H.R. 1 would gut election integrity protections, removing state-level control, and it would significantly curtail free speech in politics.

The Capitol riot was a tragedy, even though it was far from the “insurrection” that Democrats make it out to be. While Psaki has a point that election integrity concerns inspired the protest on January 6, that does not mean there is no validity to those concerns and it does not mean that people who address those concerns support violent attacks on the U.S. government.

The election integrity laws Republicans champion do not aim to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election — they aim to reintroduce election security measures that officials relaxed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and to restrain forces like CTCL, which arguably shifted the playing field in Biden’s favor.

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It is outrageous for Psaki to suggest some nefarious connection between election integrity laws and the Capitol riot, but it is in keeping with Biden’s domestic war on terror initiatives, which seem aimed at marshaling the power of the U.S. government against his political opponents. Election integrity efforts like voter ID requirements enjoy widespread popular support for good reasons and they have absolutely nothing to do with attacks on the U.S. Capitol.