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Video Shows DeSantis Pushing for GOP State Legislatures to Overturn 2020 Race

DeSantis pushed an aspect of the independent legislature theory, a fringe legal idea the Supreme Court has rejected.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis celebrates as he watches his children playing carnival games at the Iowa State Fair midway on August 12, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.

A video clip of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis from two and a half years ago has resurfaced and is being shared on social media, in which the 2024 presidential candidate suggested using a discredited legal theory in order to overturn the results of the 2020 election to help then-President Donald Trump remain in office.

The video suggests DeSantis, like Trump, is willing to embrace far-fetched legal theories in order to help himself or other Republicans obtain positions of power, even if they go against the democratic preferences of voters.

In the video, DeSantis discusses possible remedies to help Trump win the 2020 election, even after most media outlets at the time — including Fox News, the cable news station where the interview took place — had already called the election for President Joe Biden. DeSantis suggests utilizing an aspect of the fringe, right-wing independent legislature theory, which posits, in part, that state legislatures are the sole deciders of how electors are chosen to represent states in the Electoral College.

The Florida governor also encourages viewers in states Trump lost to President Joe Biden to pressure their state legislatures to utilize the theory…

“If you’re in those states that have Republican Legislatures like Pennsylvania and Michigan and all these places, call your state Representatives and your state Senators,” DeSantis said in the clip. “Under Article II of the Constitution, presidential electors are done by the Legislatures and the schemes they create.”

DeSantis added that he would “exhaust every option” in order to produce what he said would be a “fair count” of votes, although all indications at the time — and ever since — showed that the initial vote count was both fair and legitimate.

While the Constitution does give legislatures the ability to decide how electors are chosen, it doesn’t give them the right to overturn elections or to decide how electors are picked after voters have already decided — the clause simply gives state governments the ability to pass laws to determine what the process will be. Since the middle of the 19th century, every state has chosen its electors through an election by eligible voters.

Seen as a fringe theory at the time DeSantis suggested it on Fox News, the United States Supreme Court has since rejected other aspects of the independent state legislature theory, which asserted that the legislature alone has the authority to decide how congressional maps are drawn.

A staunch Trump supporter when the interview was recorded, DeSantis has since stated he doesn’t believe Trump won the 2020 race.

Earlier this month in an interview with NBC News correspondent Dasha Burns, DeSantis was asked who he thought won the race, Biden or Trump. At first, DeSantis tried to sidestep the issue — “Whoever puts their hand on the Bible on January 20 every four years is the winner,” he responded.

Burns pressed DeSantis to be more direct. “Respectfully, you did not clearly answer that question,” she pointed out, asking whether the Florida governor could give a “yes” or “no” response instead.

“No, of course he lost. Joe Biden’s the president,” DeSantis finally relented.

DeSantis will likely have to explain to voters why he, like Trump, would be supportive of using then-untested legal theories in order to justify overturning the will of the people — that is, of course, if he’s successful in becoming the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. As it stands right now, DeSantis, like all other current GOP primary candidates, is polling far behind Trump.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll published this week, for example, shows that 57 percent of Republican-aligned voters back Trump for the party’s pick. DeSantis, meanwhile, obtains just 18 percent support, while businessman Vivek Ramaswamy garners 5 percent and former Vice President Mike Pence gets 4 percent in the poll.

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