Michigan's U.S. Rep. Mitchell quits Republican Party over baseless election fraud claims

Dec 14, 2020 at 5:34 pm
U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell. - Congress
U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell.

U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan is leaving the Republican Party and switching his affiliation to independent, saying the GOP’s baseless claims of widespread election fraud pose “long-term harm to our democracy.”

Mitchell, a second-term congressman who did not run for re-election in 2020, announced his plans Monday in a letter to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“The president and his legal team have failed to provide substantive evidence of fraud or administrative failure on a scale large enough to impact the outcome of the election,” Mitchell wrote.

He added, “It is unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote. Further, it is unacceptable for the president to attack the Supreme Court of the United States because its judges, both liberal and conservative, did not rule with his side or that ‘the Court failed him.’ It was our Founding Fathers' objective to insulate the Supreme Court from such blatant political motivations.”

Less than two weeks after the election, Mitchell was one of the first Republicans to call on Trump to concede defeat for “the good of the nation.”

Mitchell said Trump lost in Michigan because of his poor performance in the Republican strongholds of Kent and Oakland counties, not because of fraud in Wayne County, a meritless claim parroted by Trump and his supporters.

But it isn't just the election that concerned Mitchell.

“The stability and strength of our democracy has been an ongoing concern for me,” Mitchell wrote. “I expressed strong concerns about the president's response to Charlottesville, the anti-immigrant ‘send them back’ rhetoric, and even the racist comments of my own colleagues in the House.”

Mitchell isn’t the first Republican to quit the Republican Party over its subservience to Trump. In July 2019, Rep. Justin Amash also quit the Republican Party due to what he called the “partisan death spiral” of modern politics, identifying as an independent before announcing affiliation with the Libertarian Party in April 2020. He is the first — and only — Libertarian Party member to serve in Congress.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.