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Confusion Ensues After Biden Appears to State That the 2022 Elections Could be Illegitimate

Published: January 20, 2022
U.S. President Joe Biden answers questions during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 19, 2022 in Washington, DC. With his approval rating hovering around 42-percent, Biden is approaching the end of his first year in the Oval Office with inflation rising, COVID-19 surging and his legislative agenda stalled on Capitol Hill. (Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

At a press conference on Wednesday, Jan. 19, U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to imply that the upcoming 2022 elections, scheduled for November this year, may be “illegitimate.” 

At the presser, Biden was asked the following question, “Speaking of voting rights legislation, if this isn’t passed, do you still believe the upcoming election will be fairly conducted and its results will be legitimate?”

The reporter was referring to Biden’s now failed bid to push voting rights legislation through the Senate. 

On Wednesday, Republicans opposed to Biden’s voting rights agenda, used Senate filibuster rules to block the legislation from getting a vote on passage prompting Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to make a last-chance bid to temporarily change the rules to allow a simple majority to vote on the bill. Schumer’s bid was rejected in a vote 52-48 with “Machin and Sinema, who both backed the legislation, joining Republicans in preserving the 60-vote threshold to advance it,” Bloomberg reported. 

In response to the reporter’s question Biden said, “Well it all depends on whether or not we’re able to make the case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election.”

The response prompted GOP senators to refer to Biden’s comments as “shocking” and “irresponsible.” They interpreted Biden’s comments as refusing to affirm that the 2022 midterm elections will be legitimate should Democrats fail to pass their now failed major election bills

Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told Fox News that Biden’s comments were “unfortunate” adding that, “Democrats have been highly critical of those Republicans who refused to accept the results of the last election and use the word ‘rigged’ to say that elections weren’t fair. They’re using the exact same language and casting doubt on the elections.” 

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who voted against overturning the 2020 Electoral College results referred to Biden’s comments as “shocking,” adding that, “To have the president of the United States trying to undermine the results of an election before there’s actually an election is a stunning manifestation.”

White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, took to Twitter in an attempt to clarify Biden’s comments stating, “Lets be clear: @potus was not casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 election. He was making the opposite point: In 2020, a record number of voters turned out in face of a pandemic, and election officials made sure they could vote and have those votes counted.”

In a subsequent Tweet Psaki further elaborated, “He is explaining that the results would be illegitimate if states do what the former president asked them to do after the 2020 elections: toss out ballots and overturn results after the fact. The Big Lie is putting our democracy at risk. We’re fighting to protect it.”

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., when asked by Fox News about Biden’s comments said the election bill was “very important” and that “it certainly deals with the integrity of the election process and the confidence of the people of this country in our free election,” appearing to avoid the question.

Similarly on Thursday, Vice President Harris while speaking on NBC’s Today declined to directly say that the 2022 elections will be legitimate stating instead, “The president has been consistent on this issue and the issue at hand, the issue I was there last night in the chamber of the Senate and the issue is there are two bills…that have been the solution that has been offered to address the fact that around our country states have put in place laws that are purposely making it more difficult for the American people to vote.”

“When anchor Savannah Guthrie tried to pin Harris down on the question again, the vice president continued to dodge and rail against election laws in GOP states,” Fox News reported.