No one should be surprised Doug LaMalfa, one of the reddest congressmen in the U.S. House of Representatives, serves the people of the reddest county in the state of California.
According to the California Secretary of State’s Office, while President Donald Trump received only 34.3 percent of the vote statewide in his campaign for a second term, he garnered a whopping 74.8 percent of the vote in Lassen County. LaMalfa also collected an identical 74.8 percent of the Lassen County vote.
After Lassen News requested LaMalfa’s comments on last Wednesday’s events at the U.S. Capitol where pro-Trump protestors stormed the building and five people lost their lives, including a police officer who was allegedly bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher and a female protestor who died after being shot by Capitol Police, our congressman responded with a wide-ranging, telephonic interview Thursday evening discussing the events of the day from the airport in Denver, Colorado as he waited for a connecting flight.
No one should be too surprised LaMalfa, who’s served as our district 1 representative in Congress since 2013, remains a staunch proponent of the conservative positions and values that propelled him into office, an unrepentant supporter of President Trump, a voter against the certification of Electoral College electors from two states and a questioner of the validity of the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 Presidential Election.
LaMalfa urges those on the right to continue to support America, democracy
Despite such a great rift between those on the left and those on the right in these troubled times, LaMalfa offered a vision of America and democracy for those who believe this election was stolen.
“Nobody should give up on our country,” LaMalfa said. “Some people say they’re never going to vote again. I say go home. Lick your wounds. Mourn a little bit. And then come back out and say, ‘You know, this is still the greatest country.’ Ronald Reagan said there’s no other place you can escape to that has what we have. We’re a country that has a Constitution that promotes individual rights more so than in any other thing. In a lot of other countries everything always sides with the government, but here we really value the individual rights of expression and the individual’s own treasury. We can’t give up on that. Yeah, we’re disappointed with the election and the outcome. Yeah, you feel it, and you have to deal with it.”
Removing the president from office
LaMalfa rejects the notion President Trump should be removed from office.
As the calls to remove President Trump from office via resignation, the 25th Amendment or impeachment intensify, LaMalfa said those efforts are just “political posturing by the people who have hated or wanted to get the president for four years … It’s one more middle finger on the way out the door. They talk about the need for unity now; we have to come together now. Well, that’s not the way to make 70 million Americans who are still questioning the election feel good.”
Did the president incite violence?
LaMalfa admits he did not see President Trump’s speech at the Save America rally in front of the White House before the Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, but he said what’s he’s heard sounded to him like simple, common political rhetoric.
“I’ve heard it said he tried to incite violence,” LaMalfa said. “Well, I’ve heard him say we have to do it peacefully. At every rally don’t you hear, ‘We’re going to take it back,’ “We’re going to take our country back,’ We’re going to win, we’re going to fight, we’re going to battle in order to get the things we believe in.’ Those are standard words at any rally, aren’t they?”
Events at the U.S. Capitol
LaMalfa recounted his personal experience as pro-Trump protesters breached the U.S. Capitol building.
He said he was on the House floor ready to speak and vote on the business of the day — the certification of the Electoral College vote — when the representatives inside heard about the protestors outside the building. A few minutes later, the unruly mob entered the building.
“When they really started pouring in, the Capitol Police said, ‘We’ve got to move you out of here,’ so we were herded out through a back door to a set of stairs and more stairs down into the very bowels of the Capitol. We moved through the tunnels to the buildings across the street … impenetrable for those outside. They wouldn’t know where to look for the members of Congress.”
LaMalfa estimated there were about 150 members on the House floor at that time, plus a lot of staff.
When the representatives returned to the House chambers, LaMalfa said he didn’t see a lot of damage to the building except for the broken doors to the chamber.
“Whatever they did was cleaned up pretty quickly, except for the damage to the back doors of the chamber,” LaMalfa said.
He said he could see broken glass and damage to doors in other parts of the building, but “They didn’t let us go around the outside of the building. I would have been inclined to go outside and look.”
LaMalfa’s office sent us a picture of the broken door.
Support for the Capitol Police — LaMalfa said they were overwhelmed by ‘a horde’
While some have criticized the security at the Capitol and the alleged delayed response by the National Guard to what’s been called an insurrection and the resignations of law enforcement leaders in the aftermath, LaMalfa praised the Capitol Police.
He said the security at the Capitol is “really good,” but “they’re not geared to (protect the building from) giant hordes. The security is strong, but when a horde descends on it, then they don’t have the strength of numbers.”
LaMalfa said he’s not in favor of armed troops guarding the Capitol, but he did acknowledge maybe someone in authority should have seen the riot coming.
“I don’t know if we’re a country that wants the National Guard at all times — enough troops stationed at the Capitol to put down a large horde,” LaMalfa said. “Maybe we should have had some more on alert close by given the nature of what was happening, but I’m not going to second guess those guys doing their job.”
LaMalfa noted when events like this start happening, “The mob does not get smarter. You’ve got people who are just not thinking or you’ve got people who are agitators who are taking advantage because they want to see things burn, they want to see mayhem … People take advantage of the situation. As far as the people during the Trump rally, 99 percent were there to express themselves and all that stuff, but it doesn’t take very many — if there were 100,000 in town then it only took 200 or 400 or whatever it was around the U.S. Capitol to take the whole thing and get the headlines on the front page of the New York Times, ‘Trump incites rally.’ Well, it might have been some people who were Trump supporters; it might have been Antifa people who were wearing Trump hats taking advantage. I don’t claim to know.”
LaMalfa said he met a planeload of Trump supporters, and he calls them ‘nice people’
LaMalfa said he has questions and concerns regarding the results of the 2020 Presidential Election, so he said he understands the frustration of the protestors who believe the election was stolen and Trump was actually elected to a second term.
“I was on a whole planeload of pretty much Trump supporters and those who were there rallying, LaMalfa said. “These are nice people. They’re just rallying — the peaceful stuff you hear about. They’re just frustrated, and I get that, too.”
According to LaMalfa voters on different sides of the aisle have different views of the presidential election.
“Some people are going to be very happy with the election results,” LaMalfa said, “and others are going to be disconsolate — they’re very disappointed.”
Voting against certification of the Electoral College vote
In a Jan. 5 statement, LaMalfa outlined his opposition to the certification of the Electoral College vote.
“Millions of Americans and tens of thousands of my constituents have serious questions and concerns about the November election,” LaMalfa said. “There has been an endless dripping of reports of mishandled ballots, numbers not adding up and outright violations of the U.S. Constitution’s clear direction for setting election rules. These questions must be answered and no amount of media spin or declarations of ‘nothing to see here, move along’ will change the concerns that many of us share.”
Ted Cruz’s plan
LaMalfa said he supported a plan by Ted Cruz to have Congress investigate the election concerns, despite some possible consequences on the timing of the inauguration of the next president.
LaMalfa said Cruz wanted to bring information to a bipartisan commission made up of 10-members of the Senate and five members of the Supreme Court, and “hash it all out. It is extraordinary, but tens of millions of Americans think this election was stolen from them or maybe in a lesser degree there was funny business or it was manipulated. I think they deserve an answer to that, so that’s why I signed on the way I did in order to provide some opportunity to get more of this out there before we go, ‘Oh, it’s over, and we don’t talk about it anymore.’ The people I met waiting in line to get on the plane are not satisfied that this went right or that their questions have been answered.”
He said it would have been good for Congress to do the work and look into the states’ concerns since the courts wouldn’t take the issues up.
“Ted Cruz had a really great idea, LaMalfa said. “Why don’t we take a 10-day time-out? Jan. 6 isn’t really that important that we get this slammed through … but the 20th would be the traditional swearing in, except after the 20th you wouldn’t have anyone in the White House. The previous president doesn’t get any extra time just because we haven’t gotten this done.”
Can’t get a judge to hear their concerns
LaMalfa said much of that frustration comes from an inability to get a hearing of these concerns before a judge — despite a reported 60 legal challenges filed in numerous courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
According to LaMalfa, before the election, the judges said you don’t have an injured party so they wouldn’t hear it. Then in some jurisdictions judges ruled the plaintiffs had no standing, and in other jurisdictions the judges ruled the legal actions were filed too late.
“What are the rules here where you don’t have standing?” a frustrated LaMalfa asked. “You can throw things out on a technicality, but this stuff hasn’t really been heard that much … The courts threw it out, but how many actually sat down and went through what people are charging?”
LaMalfa stopped short of saying the judges made the wrong decisions, “but I believe the courts are bound by what they believe is the law or their jurisdiction by saying you don’t have standing or you don’t have this. I’d like to see the courts be a little more aggressive and look at the whole picture and say, ‘What are the effects? What are the effects constitutionally?’ Take Pennsylvania — they changed the law without the legislators doing it. They did it by executive action. Well, that’s not legal. The court didn’t hear it ahead of time because they said there was no injured party yet and afterwards a different court said no. So you have all these people in between who say, well who’s going to do the job? That’s why Ted Cruz’s idea made a lot of sense.”
According to LaMalfa, despite concerns over the election results in several state legislatures, the legislators felt like they were slaves to the deadline to send the results to Congress and they didn’t have enough time to investigate election concerns and allegations.
“They didn’t have enough proof to put their finger on it by the deadline,” LaMalfa said. “Since then they’ve had more time and they’ve come back and said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to stop this thing.’ But they didn’t help us much by sending this stuff (the certifications of the election) here that we’ve got to open (and approve) pretty much as a formality.”
And LaMalfa noted this process of contesting the results in Congress isn’t new because the Democrats have done it in the past as well.
“It didn’t go as far (the Democrat efforts) and it didn’t get the spotlight because (it didn’t have) the massive strife of this election and this era,” LaMalfa said.
LaMalfa said despite their certifications to the Electoral College, as some states learn more and more about possible issues with the election, they’ve turned to Congress for relief. He said he’s received letters from four states asking for help in getting to the bottom of their election concerns.
“I received a letter from the Pennsylvania state legislature asking us to delay the electoral vote counts,” LaMalfa said, “because they wanted some more investigation.”
In a Jan. 7 statement issued a day after the riots at the U.S. Capitol, LaMalfa explains his vote to reject the Electoral College results in two states.
“After a day of protest and mob violence interfered with the ability of Congress to hold a reasoned discussion, Congress continued to debate the important questions that remain unanswered about the election,” the statement read. “Questions remain about the unconstitutionality of unilateral last-minute election rule changes in four states and in ballot handling in others.”
LaMalfa had previously joined with members of the House and Senate to ask that a bipartisan commission be formed of House members, Senate members and Supreme Court Justices to take 10 days to review these claims, as proposed by Senator Ted Cruz.
“I have no interest in overturning any election solely based on allegations,” LaMalfa said in the statement. “I do want the allegations to be investigated before Congress gives a final approval to the results. The court should have reviewed these claims, they didn’t. A simple reading of the U.S. Constitution’s plain language makes clear four states violated provisions on the election of the president. My vote today was to ensure that the investigation happened before Inauguration Day. It is clear that after so many questions were raised, and rules changed so wildly across the country, that Congress needs to set reasonable minimum standards for federal elections. I will be working on finding a bipartisan compromise to deliver common sense reforms.”
Allegations and conspiracy theories
The congressman said he couldn’t verify some of the claims being made — such as the president’s assertion at the Save America rally that in one state 60,000 ballots were returned before they were even mailed out.
“I’ve heard stuff like that, but I don’t have any way to validate it myself until we have a clear hearing,” LaMalfa said. “I don’t know who’s making that allegation or what they’re basing it on. There are so many things that come flying out of the woodwork and everybody posts a meme about it on Instagram or Facebook. Somebody said this and this guy said that and somebody sends me a video of some guy who says I saw this or I saw that. I don’t know.
“I think of myself as a jurist. If I’m on a jury and I have to say guilty or not guilty, there had better be pretty clear evidence. This isn’t a criminal proceeding per se for a jury, but for us to take the radical step of overturning electors from a state or enough states to change the election, everybody’s watching very closely. You have to be pretty ironclad to do that no matter who it is or what party it is. It’s got to be pretty clear you’ve done it right because you don’t want to break the faith of either side.
“Right now for the people who voted for President Trump — a big bunch of them believe we didn’t ask enough questions or we didn’t get to ask enough questions. They’re asking us, ‘Hey, hold the phone. We shouldn’t certify this thing.’”
Trying to overturn the election?
“Someone said you’re just trying to overturn the election,” LaMalfa said. “Well, I’ll say I’m not happy with the results of the election, but if it’s found to be duly and legitimately the result, then OK, that’s it.”
But he said if irregularities are found, the people should know.
“We just want to know,” LaMalfa said. “There’s too much anecdotal evidence, too many people who have signed sworn affidavits who can go to jail if it isn’t true and other instances where the sate legislators have heard testimony – Pennsylvania, Arizona and others — where they say, ‘Wait a minute, this is making me sick to my stomach what I’m hearing. We shouldn’t have certified that.’”
Congress has the right to hear objections, LaMalfa said, but the Senate only protested two of six states that had the most questions.
“We had those debates, we had those votes, so at that point politics plays in and the parties are going to do what they do,” LaMalfa said. “The Democrats have the majority in the House, so they were able to win the question on should we vacate these electors,” eliminating those challenges to the election results.
Regarding President-elect Joe Biden’s ascension to the presidency and a possible path for Republicans to block it, LaMalfa said, “Well, that’s what’s happening. I don’t know that there are any other avenues available to debate or dispute it. I think we have to proceed as if the business of the country is waiting for that. President Trump has 13 more days. We work with him those 13 days, and Biden will be sworn in. We have to operate from there. If something else develops that puts a giant spotlight on something giant that’s wrong, then we can have that debate or discussion, but I don’t see what that’s going to be at this time.”
LaMalfa said he doesn’t know how history will treat Trump.
“What’s that saying, ‘History is made by those who write it,’” LaMalfa asked.
So, has Trump started a new political movement in America?
“There are people talking a third party … the America Party,” LaMalfa said. “We have a group of Republicans who still think Republican or conservative who think the president did damage by what he said or did sometimes. He’s going to get hung with this COVID thing, but I don’t know that any other administration would have done a whole lot better or a whole lot different. It’s hard to tell. You can’t run these models in a vacuum. You have to do it in real life. We had a great economy. We had a better national security situation with our borders and our military around the world. Conservatives felt really great about the things he was doing.
“Outside of all that, the economy got killed by a virus, and big media’s been working as hard as it can to pin all that on Trump, and you know that’s not fair. Did big media ever say he did anything good? Did they ever say, ‘Great economy, Mr. President?’ Nope. They’d just go find anecdotes about people who were still poor, people who have been left behind. He’s not ever going to get a fair shake, so I don’t know if history is going to be kind to him on the good things that did get accomplished. Big media has never had the same values as the Trump supporters anyway, so … ”
Despite the apparent shift in power from the right to the left, LaMalfa looks forward to serving his constituents even though that might be more difficult with Biden in the White House.
“I’ve been elected to a two-year term to get these things done, and I’m disappointed Trump didn’t win,” LaMalfa said. “He isn’t a perfect guy, obviously, but he helped me get the stuff done in the district that I was trying to do — forestry, grazing and other stuff. We didn’t have this whole climate change thing that flat shuts everything down … Whether it be funding or policy changes, the other side went too far. They’re regulating mud puddles. Is every single species endangered?”
In general, LaMalfa said Trump streamlined the process and helped him get things done.
“He helped us get there,” LaMalfa said. “It was good for our rural economy, but it’s going to be moving back in the other direction now. Four years wasn’t long enough, and there’s the people in the agencies, the lifers, who throw roadblocks up on simple things like getting reports done, permits done … He was very helpful on that stuff. At least we had a chance. If he couldn’t change the policy, at least he wasn’t making it worse … I’m really sad because we’re going to be playing a lot more defense now.”
What about the future?
While those on the right come to deal with losing the election, LaMalfa predicted their frustration with the direction the country moves most likely will intensify as the Biden administration takes the reins of power and turns the nation back to the left. Sadly, when the political pendulum swings back to the right from the left, the pivot point is always farther to the left than it was before, LaMalfa said.
“When people on the right see what actions the Biden White House and a Democrat Congress does to start taking things from them, whether it’s gun rights or taking away your cars, or the grazing land or the environmental stuff, the climate change crap, you know, all the stuff they’re going to push through, people on the right are going to watch this and they’re going to say, ‘all right, that’s enough.’”