Upton leads pro-impeachment GOP reps in fighting probe of Iowa election

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — House Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump are expressing "extreme dismay" that Democrats are challenging the election results of a congressional race in Iowa. 

Led by west Michigan U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, nine of the 10 pro-impeachment Republicans wrote over the weekend to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying the decision by House Democrats to investigate the narrow race would further undermine public confidence in election integrity.

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph

The Republicans are urging Pelosi to end an investigation by the Democratic-controlled House Administration Committee into the November race in Iowa's 2nd District, where Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks was declared the winner by six votes over Democrat Rita Hart after a recount. The race was certified Nov. 30.

Hart had asked that the House Administration panel look into 22 ballots that she claimed were not correctly counted in the canvassing process, arguing those votes would have put her ahead. She did not challenge the result in court.

The GOP letter was signed by U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer of Grand Rapids Township and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, among others. It marks their first formal joint effort since the impeachment vote, according to Upton's office. Trump was acquitted by the Senate in February.

Nearly all of the pro-impeachment House Republicans have drawn primary challengers and been censured by state or local GOP entities in the months since the vote, including Upton and Meijer.

Their letter to Pelosi comes after Democrats have hammered Trump and his GOP allies for falsely claiming massive fraud in the Nov. 3 election. 

"This action not only sets a dangerous precedent for future elections, it reinforces the false belief by many in our country that our election system is rigged and that certain politicians can change the results to fit their whims," the lawmakers wrote. 

The Republicans noted the vote for impeachment of a GOP president because Trump had "repeatedly" refuted the election results, leading to "horrific violence" in the Capitol building on Jan. 6. 

"That was not an easy vote for us politically, but it was the right thing to do. The integrity of our election system was being attacked and trust in it was being eroded — with disastrous consequences," the Republicans wrote. 

"It is our belief that any attempt to overturn the results of a certified congressional election through a partisan process will be rightfully seen as illegitimate and further erode that trust in our election system." 

Pelosi's office referred to her recent comments about the House Administration panel's investigation, where she noted that the race was decided by six votes out of 400,000 cast.

"This is not unique," Pelosi told ABC's "This Week" earlier this month. "For them to call anybody hypocritical about elections when two-thirds of them in the House voted against accepting the presidency of Joe Biden is — well, it's just who they are."

In this Oct. 8, 2020, file photo, Mariannette Miller-Meeks answers a question during a debate in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Pelosi in a March 10 news conference did not rule out a scenario in which the Iowa election results would be overturned and Miller-Meeks removed from the U.S. House. She said it depends on the Administration panel's findings.

"We'll see where that takes us," Pelosi told reporters. "But there could be a scenario to that extent, yes."

Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren of California this month postponed a vote on Miller-Meeks’ motion to dismiss Hart's election challenge.

Lofgren has asked lawyers for the campaigns to submit written responses to the committee by month's end.

Miller-Meeks was sworn into office in January. 

mburke@detroitnews.com