March 27, 2023


MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s Republican house speaker said Tuesday that former president Donald Trump called him “within the last week” seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election that Joe Biden won.

Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) told WISN in Milwaukee that he received a call from Trump after the state Supreme Court ruled on July 8 that most absentee ballot drop boxes in Wisconsin are illegal. The ruling addresses future elections, not the one Trump lost in 2020 by more than 20,000 votes in Wisconsin.

“It’s very consistent. He makes his case, which I respect,” Vos said to WISN. “He would like us to do something different in Wisconsin. I explained that it’s not allowed under the constitution. He has a different opinion.”

Vos said Trump then posted about him on social media. In a July 13 post on Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform, the former president repeated his baseless claims of election fraud and falsely accused the speaker of letting Democrats “get away with ‘murder.’ ”

“What a waste of a brilliant and courageous decision by Wisconsin’s Highest Court,” Trump wrote.

Ballot drop boxes not allowed in Wisconsin, state Supreme Court rules

On Tuesday night, Trump said on Truth Social that Vos’s Republican primary opponent, Adam Steen, could benefit if Vos does not take action. The primary is Aug. 9. A spokesman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

“This is not a time for him to hide, but a time to act!” Trump wrote. “I don’t know his opponent in the upcoming Primary, but feel certain he will do well if Speaker Vos doesn’t move with gusto. Robin, don’t let the voters of Wisconsin down!”

After facing criticism from Trump last year, Vos hired former state Supreme Court justice Michael Gableman to review the 2020 election, even though recounts and court rulings had found Biden won the election. Gableman in March said Republicans who control the legislature should consider decertifying the 2020 election. Vos rejected the idea, because legal experts, including Gableman’s own attorney, James Bopp Jr., have said doing so is impossible.

Over the past year, Vos has said he talks to Trump regularly, even though they do not see eye to eye on how to deal with the 2020 election. Vos did not immediately respond to a request for an interview Wednesday morning.

Steen said that he has not talked to Trump but that the former president’s comments are lending fuel to his primary campaign. He criticized Vos for not advancing the resolution that seeks to undo the 2020 results.

“If you really want the people to know that their vote counts, you want to find the answer, so what he is doing to me is spitting in the face of men and women who have given their life to this country,” he said.

The continued push from Trump to overturn the 2020 election results comes as the hearings for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol have shown that Trump’s actions put the country on a path toward violence that day. Evidence from the committee indicates that Trump chose to escalate rather than dial down tensions surrounding the election on at least 15 occasions. The committee’s next hearing, scheduled for Thursday night, will focus on Trump’s actions while the U.S. Capitol was under attack and breached.

Trump’s choices set nation on path to Jan. 6 violence, committee shows

The Wisconsin case the state Supreme Court ruled on this month was brought by two suburban Milwaukee men represented by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty after about 2 million people voted by absentee ballot in the November 2020 election, largely because of the coronavirus pandemic. There were 528 drop boxes in use across 430 state municipalities for the 2020 election, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

After the conservative group argued in a lawsuit that nothing in state law indicated that absentee drop boxes were allowed, the case made its way to the state Supreme Court. On July 8, the Wisconsin high court ruled 4 to 3 against the use of drop boxes, with conservatives in the majority and liberals in the minority.

“An absentee ballot must be returned by mail or the voter must personally deliver it to the municipal clerk at the clerk’s office or a designated alternate site,” Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote for the majority.

Some Republicans have seized on the ruling as a way to try to reverse the 2020 results, but the court’s ruling focused only on future elections, not ones that have passed.

The same court declined to take up a lawsuit brought shortly after the 2020 election that sought to invalidate those results because of the use of drop boxes. In a decision from that time, the justices wrote that challenges to election procedures must be brought before elections are held, not afterward.

In his interview with WISN, Vos played down Trump’s latest push to change the results in Wisconsin.

“I think we all know Donald Trump is Donald Trump,” Vos said. “There’s very little we can do to control or predict what he will do.”

Bella reported from Washington. Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.

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