Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) is inching closer to succeeding Rep. Liz Cheney (WY) as conference chair in an ouster poised to erase some of the few remaining vestiges of opposition to former President Donald Trump’s enduring power within the GOP caucus that has been buoyed by falsehood over a stolen election.
Stefanik has dramatically shifted from a more moderate wing of the Republican Party when she was first elected in 2014 to represent a battleground district in upstate New York to a staunch Trump supporter — qualifications that appear to have become prerequisites for the post she is now positioned to seize.
But it hasn’t always been that way.
Before first winning her seat in Congress at age 30, Stefanik had served as an aide in the Bush administration aide and later campaigned for former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Stefanik only reluctantly rallied behind Trump when he won the GOP nomination in 2016, declining at first to call him by name and instead referring to him as “my party’s nominee” — a move distinctly at odds with her posture today.
Gets Conspiracy-Curious On Trump’s First Impeachment Defense Team
By the time that the congresswoman entered her fourth-term in January, she had already spent years laying the groundwork to carry Trump’s message. In 2019, Stefanik emerged as of Trump’s biggest defenders during his first impeachment when she was selected for his defense team. She carried key conspiracy-like GOP claims — arguing in one stunt that her constituents had “many concerns” about now-President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his role in a Ukrainian gas company.
“For the millions of Americans viewing today, the two most important facts are the following: Number one, Ukraine received the aid. Number two, there was, in fact, no investigation into Biden,” she said during the hearing in November 2019.
Cheney, notably also defended Trump at that time. But Stefanik, who held a far more moderate voting record than Cheney, continued past impeachment to sculpt herself an increasingly Trump-shaped space, rushing to his defense at the supposed peril of democracy.
Stands With Trump Narrative About ‘Legal Ballots’
As it became apparent that supporting Trump also meant casting off the core tenets of democracy, Stefanik emerged particularly dogged in endlessly chasing a mirage of falsehood over a stolen election last year.
Two days after the election, Stefanik pushed Trump’s campaign to sow doubt over the security of the ballot, posting an ad about voter irregularities and fraud.
“We stand with the American people and @realDonaldTrump to count only legal ballots and ensure a safe, transparent, and fair election with ballot integrity and security to protect the vote,” she said on Twitter, in what became the kind of language replicated in a flurry of false claims about voter fraud that followed.
Signs Onto Amicus Backing TX Lawsuit Under Guise Of ‘Protecting Our Constitution’
In December, Stefanik announced that she would sign her name to an amicus brief backing a Texas lawsuit that urged the Supreme Court to challenge election results in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
She further enflamed Trump supporters over the lie of a stolen election when she said Americans “are rightfully concerned about both the unconstitutional overreach from certain state officials and the integrity of the Presidential election.”
The case would eventually be tossed out by the Supreme Court in a major loss for its efforts to disenfranchise thousands of voters.
Stokes Doubt On The Eve And Day Of Capitol Riot, Hyping ‘Serious Questions’ About Election Results
Days before a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol under the pretense of Trump’s “Big Lie,” the New York Republican continued to foment distrust among the masses about the legitimacy of election results — insisting that she had “serious questions” with respect to the Presidential election.
“Tens of millions of Americans are rightly concerned that the 2020 election featured unprecedented voting irregularities, unconstitutional overreach by unelected state officials and judges ignoring state election laws, and a fundamental lack of ballot integrity and security,” Stefanik said in a statement at the time.
Stefanik persisted in pushing debunked claims about “voting irregularities” — a move that led her to join 146 other House Republicans in objecting to the final certification of the Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Stefanik rallied behind even the most brazen falsehoods to back Trump’s election fraud charade — claiming in an open letter to constituents on Jan. 6 that “more than 140,000 votes came from underage, deceased, and otherwise unauthorized voters — in Fulton County alone.”
Calls Trump’s Second Impeachment A ‘Partisan Ploy’
In the wake of the Capitol riot, Stefanik said that she wouldn’t stand for Trump’s “snap impeachment” which she declared on Twitter was a “political and unconstitutional sham.”
“It is a partisan ploy with no basis in the Constitution,” she said as she joined an overwhelming majority of all but 10 of her House colleagues who voted against Trump’s impeachment for inciting an insurrection on the Capitol.
Much like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and a number of other Republicans at the time, Stefanik adopted the false posture of unity to knock the case for impeachment.
“The Democrats’ decision to impeach the President with one week remaining in his term further fuels the divisions in the country during this very trying time,” she said.
Wears Dismissal From Respected Institution For Backing Trump’s Mistruths As A Badge Of Honor
Stefanik’s conspiracy theorizing about the election, got her booted as an advisory committee member of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.
In true-to-Trump form, she adopted the rebuke from the institution as a badge of honor while simultaneously painting herself as a victim of what she claimed was Harvard’s “cower and cave to the woke Left” mentality.
Falsely Claims The Constitution Was ‘Usurped’
As waves of fear reverberated across the country in the wake of the Capitol riot, Stefanik persisted in her denials of Biden’s win.
“I felt and many millions of Americans feel that the Constitution was usurped because unelected officials did not follow state election law,” she said, fending off calls for her resignation at a January rally in Clinton County, New York, where she argued that the stolen election gambit she had undertaken with her colleagues was valid.
Calls Trump Twitter Ban ‘Un-American’
Morphing into full-on Trumpism at the rally, Stefanik, railed against “big tech,” and the decisions by Facebook and Twitter to suspend Trump’s account on their platforms in the wake of the Capitol riot.
“They’re un-American. They’re unconstitutional. Big tech is going to be held accountable for their unconstitutional acts,” she said. “I think it was a very, very bad and un-American decision.”