Under Pressure From Trump, Top Wisconsin GOPer Keeps Big Lie Investigation Running

MADISON, WI - DECEMBER 04: Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) (L) and Speaker Pro Tempore Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) listen as Democrats address the Assembly during a contentious legislative sessio... MADISON, WI - DECEMBER 04: Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) (L) and Speaker Pro Tempore Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) listen as Democrats address the Assembly during a contentious legislative session on December 4, 2018 in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin Republicans are trying to pass a series of proposals that will weaken the authority of Gov.-elect Tony Evers and incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

After a menacing statement from former President Donald Trump, a top Wisconsin Republican said he would give even more time to a partisan election investigator who’s suggested that the state legislature should decertify the 2020 election results. 

The investigator, Michael Gableman, hasn’t uncovered any evidence of voter fraud during his months-long dive into the 2020 election results in Wisconsin, which Biden won with more than 20,000 votes over Donald Trump. He has also gotten some basic facts wrong in his public statements.

But, more importantly for his political survival, Gableman has endorsed a Republican candidate for governor, threatened to jail Democratic mayors, and urged the legislature to consider decertifying the 2020 election, a legal impossibility. 

The partisan probe was supposed to end last Oct. 31, but Gableman blew past that deadline. In January, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Gableman said they’d reached a verbal agreement to keep the investigation going. Early last month, the pair extended the probe again, this time through April 30.

A few days later, Vos sounded like he might wind down the probe. He floated the possibility of abandoning subpoenas aimed at forcing several officials, including a number of Democratic mayors, to testify behind closed doors as part of the probe. The subpoena recipients are challenging the probe in court.

But it was not to be. Gableman’s work will continue, Vos (R) said Tuesday, “as we guarantee the legal power of our legislative subpoenas and get through the other lawsuits that have gridlocked this investigation.”

Vos’ statement came just a day after Trump took aim at Wisconsin with a tweet-like statement in which he said that “Anyone calling themselves a Republican in Wisconsin should support the continued investigation in Wisconsin without interference.” 

“After all of the evidence the report brought to light, how could anyone want to stop it?” Trump wrote. “I understand some RINOs have primary challengers in Wisconsin. I’m sure their primary opponents would get a huge bump in the polls if these RINOs interfere.” (Vos, the longest-serving Assembly speaker in Wisconsin history, faces a primary challenger from the right.)

Gableman himself got in on the lobbying effort. Earlier this month, after visiting Trump at Mar-a-Lago, Gableman appeared on Steve Bannon’s show War Room attacked Vos, saying he’d received word that the legislative leader wanted him to pack up his office. He urged Bannon’s audience to call Vos and “thank him for his continued support of this office to get to the truth.”

“I’m getting calls from Speaker Vos’ office asking — telling us that they’re going to pick up our office equipment on April 26,” Gableman told Bannon. “There must be more investigation.”

Gableman also wrote that shuttering the investigation at this point would “render pointless and a waste of taxpayer money the entire investigation,” WisPolitics.com reported.

Gableman has urged the Wisconsin legislature “to take a very hard look” at decertifying the 2020 election results in the state — even though that’s not legally possible — largely based on the millions of dollars in election grants originating from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to election offices nationwide in 2020. The legality of those grants was upheld by several courts, but Gableman has likened them to bribes paid to boost African American turnout in urban areas.

The investigator, a former state Supreme Court justice, has also made clear that he’s a partisan Republican — endorsing a Republican gubernatorial candidate, hiring a staffer whose organization sued over the election results, seeking to jail Democratic mayors who’ve refused to sit for closed-door interviews, and taking shots at election officials and judges standing in the way of his probe.

Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: