WASHINGTON – Former House Speaker Paul Ryan excoriated fellow Republicans Sunday in a rare statement that called planned GOP efforts to challenge President-elect Joe Biden's win "anti-democratic and anti-conservative."
Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin who served as House Speaker from 2015 to 2019, has seldom weighed in on events since leaving office, but issued a lengthy statement decrying Republican plans to object to certifying the Electoral College results in a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. Twelve incoming and sitting Republican senators and dozens of GOP House members plan to object to the count over President Donald Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
"Efforts to reject the votes of the Electoral College and sow doubt about Joe Biden’s victory strike at the foundation of our republic," Ryan said in a statement. "It is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than a federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections and disenfranchise millions of Americans. The fact that this effort will fail does not mean it will not do significant damage to American democracy."
Ryan asked fellow conservatives to think about the "precedent that it would set" and noted the Trump campaign's failed efforts in the court to challenge election results in a number of states.
"The Trump campaign had ample opportunity to challenge election results, and those efforts failed from lack of evidence. The legal process was exhausted, and the results were decisively confirmed," he added. "The Department of Justice, too, found no basis for overturning the result. If states wish to reform their processes for future elections, that is their prerogative. But Joe Biden’s victory is entirely legitimate."
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was the first senator to announce plans to object to the electoral vote count. Since then, a batch of 11 GOP senators joined in a similar effort, vowing to object to the certification of Biden's win when Congress meets in a joint session on Wednesday if an election commission was not formed to investigate the election and claims of fraud.
While the effort to overturn results is doomed to fail, the objections will launch a dramatic and lengthy process that includes two hours of debate and a vote in each chamber for each state that is challenged.
The process is likely to stretch into an all-day event that will start the new Congress off with a divisive political battle.
Ryan, who ran as the Republican party's nominee for vice president on the ticket with Sen. Mitt Romney in 2012, has rarely spoken out since leaving office. He was often a target of Trump while serving in the House and continued to receive scorn even after leaving the House.
In one of his only other notable remarks since departing Washington, Ryan was quoted in "American Carnage," a 2019 book by Politico reporter Tim Alberta, as saying that Trump didn't know "anything about government" and retirement was an "escape hatch" because he couldn't stand another two years with Trump as president.
Trump has said that Republicans like Ryan "almost killed" the party, calling him "weak, ineffective & stupid." The president has also called Ryan a "baby" and said he "couldn't get him out of Congress fast enough."
Ryan has remained mum on responding to many of Trump's attacks, trying to stay out of the fray even as his friend and former running mate Romney became Trump's No. 1 GOP target. In late November, Ryan reportedly called for Trump to concede and drop his lawsuits, telling virtual banking conference attendees Trump's campaign was offering "baseless conspiracy theories."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Paul Ryan calls GOP effort to object to Biden's win 'anti-democratic'