Kris Kobach, an ally of President Trump who sat on a panel on the integrity of voters, worried Thursday about Republican fraud that could have tainted the congressional elections in North Carolina, thus becoming the only one in the world. one of the most prominent members of the GOP to be publicly alarmed.
"Based on what I read, I am very worried about election fraud," said Kobach, Kansas State Secretary, during a phone interview with the Washington Post. He said that it was not clear if the alleged wrongdoing was wide enough to change the outcome of the elections.
Kobach's comments contrasted with those of many other Republican elected officials, including Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Who chose not to comment on the 9th Congressional District allegations. from North Carolina.
The position of Trump and other major Republicans for much of this week marked a change from the recent Florida recount, in which the president and other Republicans made baseless assertions about the infringements of democratic rights. .
In the past, Trump has not hesitated to allege fraud during elections. Without presenting any evidence, he told lawmakers last year that between 3 and 5 million illegal votes had made him lose the popular vote. He has also formed a now-defunct commission to investigate allegations of electoral fraud, with Vice-President Pence as President and Kobach as Vice-President.
North Carolina officials are currently investigating whether an agent who organized a campaign to withdraw the vote for the Republican Mark Harris campaign illegally collected or altered mail ballots.
Harris, who overthrew Rep. Robert Pittenger in the Republican primary, beat Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the Nov. 6 vote. But the state has not certified the results and McCready on Thursday withdrew its concession to Harris.
Democrats and at least one former Republican official accused Trump and the GOP leaders of being partisan in retaining their North Carolina speech.
"Because it's the Republicans who have been caught in this proverbial election fraud fraud," said former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Described the situation as "inconvenient truth" for the GOP.
North Carolina agent Leslie McCrae Dowless, who told the Charlotte Observer that he had not committed any wrongdoing, declined to comment on Thursday. "I'm just not commenting at the moment," he told reporters and photographers outside his home in Bladenboro, adding, "Do not respect anyone."
The Harris campaign said it was unaware of any illegal activity.
The Washington Post reported Thursday afternoon that in the days immediately following the primary, Pittenger suspected something was wrong. Aides to Pittenger told the executive director of the Republican Party of North Carolina and a regional political director of the National Republican Congress Committee that they thought there had been fraud, according to people close to their discussions .
A spokesman for the NRCC denied that Pittenger's campaign raises the possibility of a fraud in the primary.
Asked on Thursday before the newspaper article The Post, fearing potential fraud in the district, the senator from North Carolina, Richard Burr (right), responded: "I trust the council of elections of North Carolina to take whatever action it deems necessary. "
Burr eluded the question of whether it was important for the president and other Republican leaders to speak out. "I think the best thing is for the North Carolina Elections Council to do its job."
On Wednesday, Republican senators had little to say about North Carolina.
"I do not know any details about it," said Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.). "But I'm concerned about Broward County (Florida), by a few races in California, we've experienced a situation in Georgia that [was] questionable, "he added, referring to other states where Republicans have expressed concerns.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Also mentioned Broward County, a Democratic bastion of his state where he and other Republicans criticized the vote counting process when recounting Governor's seats. and the Senate. But he had little to say about North Carolina.
"I do not know anything about the case," Rubio said. "I just heard you know, the headlines, but I have not read it in depth."
Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) Stated that he had not paid attention to the situation in North Carolina. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Said: "I'm afraid I'm not an expert. I do not know anything about it, really. I saw a title, that's all.
Democratic lawmakers had much more to say.
"It's bigger than this seat," Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi (California) said Thursday. "It was sapping the integrity of our elections."
Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) Laughed on Wednesday when asked about North Carolina. "You could not write the script better," he said, juxtaposing so-called GOP fraud with conservative efforts to strengthen voter identification laws and limit early voting periods.
Representative James E. Clyburn (DS.C.) said, "The entire election should be redone, until the primary." Earlier this week, Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) New Speaker of the House majority has suggested that the Democrats, who will control the House in January, will not be able to sit on Harris's win-certified status.
AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, said: "There is an ongoing investigation from state officials, and the speaker believes that this is appropriate."
In a post-election interview with the Washington Post, Ryan expressed concern over the California poll, where the Democrats played well, but did not accuse the state of having committed a reprehensible act.
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina GOP, told The Post on Thursday that if the state's electoral council could "show a substantial likelihood" that a potential fraud could have changed the outcome of the vote of November, "we would fully support a new election".
Representatives of Trump and Pence did not respond to requests for comments on Thursday.
Kobach, who, with Trump's support, has unsuccessfully applied for governorship, said: "Election fraud occurs on both sides of the aisle. And if nothing else, I'm glad the Democrats recognize its existence. "
Amy Gardner, Beth Reinhard and Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.