Minnesota Republicans in Congress split over the move by some in their party to block certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win, just hours after a mob invaded the U.S. Capitol in support of President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his loss.
In a late-night session that wrapped up early Thursday, the House and Senate certified Biden's victory. But two Minnesota Republicans, Rep. Jim Hagedorn and newly elected Rep. Michelle Fischbach, sided with colleagues who unsuccessfully moved to deny Biden's win based on unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.
The other two Republicans, Reps. Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber, were among a minority of Republicans who sided with Democrats against blocking certification. Both Emmer and Stauber said they still believe fraud allegations should be investigated but that Congress lacks the authority to block state electoral votes.
"Congress does not have the authority to discard an individual slate of electors certified by a state's legislature in accordance with their constitution," Emmer said in a prepared statement. "Doing so sets a precedent that I believe undermines the state-based system of elections that defines our Republic."
Just minutes before a throng of Trump supporters stormed the building, Fishbach released a statement saying she planned to support objections to certification.
Fischbach cited an election "shrouded in allegations of irregularities and fraud too voluminous to ignore." Multiple federal judges, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have rejected claims of fraud by Trump's legal team for lack of evidence.
"If the American people lose faith in the integrity of their elections," Fischbach added, "the impact would be an irreversible and catastrophic blow to the exercise of free and fair democracy."
Both Fischbach and Hagedorn condemned the riots that took place in the Capitol. But in a Thursday morning release, Hagedorn cited concerns about election officials and courts in contested states making changes to election laws in the midst of the pandemic without consent of their respective Legislatures.
"We must shine a light on the unilateral actions of state officials and courts, who subverted the proper authority of state legislatures to change election laws," said Hagedorn, who was just reelected to his second term in Congress. "For our republic and the Electoral College process to properly function, the U.S. Constitution must be respected."
Stauber made clear before the Capitol was breached that he was disappointed at the outcome of the election but felt it was not Congress' role to intercede.
"I am and always have been a firm believer in states' rights and the Tenth Amendment. Overturning the results of the Electoral College would be an overstep of Congress' limited role and would revoke power from where it should be derived — you, the people, and the states," Stauber said.
Staff reporter Patrick Condon contributed to this story.