January 06, 2021

Van Hollen Speaks on Senate Floor Against Dangerous and Unfounded Republican Attempts to Block Electoral College Vote Certification, Mob Violence at U.S. Capitol

Tonight, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) spoke on the Senate floor against Republican lawmakers’ damaging, irresponsible, and unfounded attempts to challenge November’s election results, as certified by the electoral college. During his speech, the Senator refuted the President and these Republicans’ baseless claims of election fraud and underscored the lasting harm these challenges have inflicted upon our democracy and Americans’ trust in our democratic institutions. The Senator pointed to the violence witnessed at the United States Capitol today and slammed President Trump and others for aiding and abetting these attacks. A full transcript of the Senator’s speech is available below and video is available here. 

U.S. SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-Md.): The mob violence and attack we saw on our Capitol today should be a wake-up call to each and every one of us of what happens when we fail to come together – not as Democrats and Republicans, but each of us as Americans – to stand up to a President who, time and again, has shown contempt for our democracy – contempt for our Constitution.

Today, here on the Capitol, we witnessed people taking down an American flag and putting up a Trump flag. That is not democracy in the United States of America. As every Senator who has spoken has mentioned, we have for hundreds of years had a peaceful transfer of power. Nobody likes to lose, and supporters of the losing candidate are always disappointed. What's different this time? We all know what's different this time. We have a President who – as the Senator from New Jersey said – even before a vote was cast, said that if he didn't win the election, it was going to be a fraud. And every day since then he has perpetrated that lie. 

We have a President who, just today, criticized a very loyal Vice President who’s presiding right now, urging him to disregard his responsibilities under the Constitution of the United States, in order to reinstall Donald Trump as President. The same person who got on the phone to the Secretary of State in Georgia and threatened him to change the results of the election.

Mr. President, I read something this week I never thought I’d read in a newspaper in the United States of America. It was an op-ed by all the living former Secretaries of Defense – including Secretaries Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Mattis – warning, warning the country about our tradition of peaceful transfer of power and that it would be inappropriate for the military to take sides. In the United States of America. 

We talk to the world about how we want to promote democracy and our values, and right here at home, too many are undermining those values. And Mr. President, Donald Trump could not do this alone. He could only do it if he’s aided and abetted by individuals who are willing to perpetrate those lies and those conspiracies. And that is why it is so important that we as Democrats and Republicans and Senators stand up together. Stand up together, and tell the truth. 

You know, when you go into a court of law like those 60 cases, you're testifying under penalty of perjury. That's very different than here in the House and the Senate. And in all those 60 cases, under penalty of perjury, there was no evidence of widespread fraud. So it should be easy for us, all together, to tell the truth.

On January 20, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the next President of the United States. He has said he wants to bring the country together. He has said he wants to bring Democrats and Republicans together to do some of the pressing business of this country, to defeat this pandemic, to get the economy going again, to face challenging issues of racial and social justice. 

I hope we will learn from what happened today – the mob attack on this Capitol – the price we pay when we don't stand up for the truth and for democracy. James McHenry, Maryland’s delegate to the Constitutional Convention, wrote about a famous exchange in his diaries between Elizabeth Willing Powell and Benjamin Franklin. He wrote, “A lady asked Dr. Franklin, well Doctor, what have we got a republic or a monarchy? A republic replied Doctor Franklin if you can keep it.”

My colleagues, this is a test of whether we will unite to keep our republic. I hope we will pass the test together. Thank you.