Trump lost, but DeWine won’t knock him for refusing to admit it

By: - December 9, 2020 12:50 am

President Donald Trump meeting with governors, including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Democrat Joe Biden might have won the popular vote by 7 million and gotten 306 electoral votes. But Donald Trump is cajoling state and local officials in key states to throw out some of those ballots while he makes bogus claims that they were fraudulently cast.

The numbers might seem clear, but only a tiny portion — 12% — of the 247 members of Congress will publicly state that Joe Biden is president-elect, according to a Washington Post survey that was published on Saturday.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has said that Biden won over Trump, for whom DeWine served as Ohio co-chair. But on Monday the governor was willing to go no further.

“I learned long ago not to focus on whether other people are carrying out their duties. The question for me is am I carrying out my duties,”  DeWine said in an interview with the Capital Journal. “I’ve made it very clear that first of all, the president has every right to go into court. The courts are open and the courts are the best adjudicator of facts.”

Trump’s lawyers have filed dozens of legal actions, but the courts have rebuffed him at almost every turn. Most recently, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused a request by Pennsylvania Republicans to overturn election results there.

DeWine became one of the early GOP elected officials to acknowledge that Trump didn’t have a viable path to the presidency, when on Nov. 15 he told CNN “It’s clear that, certainly, based on what we know now, that Joe Biden is the president-elect.”

DeWine reiterated that statement on Tuesday. “That was just a statement of fact,” he said.

But what DeWine’s Nov. 15 statement got him might explain why so many of his Republican colleagues are reluctant to say that Biden won the election.

“Who will be running for Governor of the Great State of Ohio?” Trump said in a tweet the following day. “Will be hotly contested!”

As he’s racked up a string of losses in the courts, Trump has engaged in behavior that many find troubling.

He’s contacted Republican state and local officials in Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona, in some cases pressuring them to throw out legally cast votes and publicly attacking them when they refused.

Worse, perhaps, is that Trump and his attorneys have been propounding false conspiracy theories claiming that Democrats somehow stole the presidential election without not bothering to steal votes down-ballot.

The continued claims, many of which Trump was making even before the election, appear to have had an effect. Multiple polls show that most Republicans don’t trust that Biden won the election. That means, presumably, that at least some won’t view him as a legitimate president.

Many pundits and other observers have called on senior Republicans to speak out against Trump’s conduct for fear that it will weaken our democracy. 

But DeWine wouldn’t go there when asked to on Tuesday.

“I’ve made it very, very clear what I said. Joe Biden is the president-elect. The president has every right to go into court,” he said.

“The president can say whatever he wants to, but the system is working,” DeWine added. “There’s no indication that the system is not working. And I think that it’s important — and I feel very strongly about this — I think it’s important that people have faith in the system. Ever be vigilant, but have faith in the system: the judicial system, the court system and the election system. And everything that we have seen so far would show that both are working.”



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Marty Schladen
Marty Schladen

Marty Schladen has been a reporter for decades, working in Indiana, Texas and other places before returning to his native Ohio to work at The Columbus Dispatch in 2017. He's won state and national journalism awards for investigations into utility regulation, public corruption, the environment, prescription drug spending and other matters.