More than two months after the insurrection at the Capitol in January, scores of Republican politicians are still pushing conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud swinging the 2020 election to Joe Biden – theories that have been rejected time and again by the Justice Department, the FBI, and state and federal judges.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves parroted those claims in a new interview with CNN on Sunday, while refusing to directly answer host Jake Tapper’s question about whether Mr Biden is the “legitimate and lawfully” elected president.
Mr Reeves, a Republican, would only go so far as to call Mr Biden the “duly elected president”, explaining the nuts and bolts of the electoral process that led to the Democratic president’s certification.
“I want to ask you a simple yes or no question because your answer a few weeks ago to a colleague kind of raised my eyebrows: Do you accept that Joe Biden is the legitimate and lawfully elected president of the United States?” Mr Tapper asked.
“President Biden is the president of the United States,” Mr Reeves responded.
Mr Tapper did not accept that answer as it did not cut to the heart of his question: whether Mr Reeves would publicly declare the legitimacy of the Biden presidency.
He challenged Mr Reeves again to say whether Mr Biden’s election victory was legitimate and lawful.
The governor fell back on mail-in voting concerns, despite judges and intelligences officials from across the political spectrum saying fraud did not affect the 2020 results.
“Our state, we do not allow mail-in voting and the reason we don’t allow mail-in voting is we don’t think that – we think it allows for lots of opportunities for fraud and other things,” Mr Reeves said. “I don’t think mail-in voting should be allowed in other states around the nation. President Biden is the duly-elected president and we will do everything we can to work with him to help the citizens of Mississippi.”
Mr Tapper quickly pointed out that Donald Trump had won in several states – Florida, Utah, Ohio, and others – that utilised widespread mail-in voting campaigns.
Once again, the CNN host re-stated his question, to which Mr Reeves responded: “Joe Biden is the duly elected president of the United States. He was certified by all 50 states either having won or lost. And he lost my state by 20 points. But he was certified in each of the individual states and certified by the US Congress, and he is the duly-elected president. That doesn’t mean we don’t have bad laws in the books in other states. It’s just a fact.”
Mr Reeves was one of two GOP governors last week to announce the rollback of several Covid-related public health restrictions and guidelines. Beginning this week, businesses in Texas and Mr Reeves’ home state of Mississippi can open at 100 per cent capacity, and people in those states do not have to wear masks in public.
A frustrated Mr Biden has described such state-level decision-making as “Neanderthal thinking”.