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Q&A: Secretary of State Kim Wyman on President Trump, the state of American Democracy and the Republican Party

The Washington Post reported that on Saturday, January 2, 2021, President Donald Trump spent an hour on the phone with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in an attempt to have Raffensperger “find” enough votes to overturn the results of the presidential election in the state.

This interview with Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman took place the next Monday, January 4th. Wyman is a Republican who was re-elected in November, 2020, to her third term as Secretary of State which voted 58.4% for Joe Biden. She is the only statewide Republican elected official on the West Coast.

DJ Wilson:  What would you have done had President Trump called you and asked you to “find” the votes to overturn the election?

Secretary Kim Wyman: I would have said the same sort of thing as Brad (Raffensperger) did. 

The most powerful thing that Secretary Raffensperger has said, and what I’ve been saying most of 2020, is that my job is elections. I took an oath to uphold the constitution and the laws of the State of Washington. And that’s what I do every day. 

I’ve been saying this to AG Barr and to Trump for most of 2020 that if you think there is widespread fraud or something that is somehow changing the will of the people then share that with me. But unfortunately I don’t think that logic even enters into the discussion any longer. 

It doesn’t matter what kind of evidence is provided. In Georgia, they did 2 recounts. They did an audit. They even have an investigative arm of the Secretary of State’s office, which they had look at this, and included the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation). They did a 15,000 sample of signatures in Cobb County, and found that 2 of those signatures were off. And they even followed up with those voters, and they found it was two spouses who had signed on behalf of their spouse. 

I was in Georgia last week because I was so disappointed in the national conversation I wanted to try to lend some moral support to Brad.

I toured Fulton County’s election center and I can tell you that Georgia has a very good elections system.” 

DW: Is this all ‘noise’ or do you think we are at a real point of peril in our American democracy? 

KW: I think we’re there.

One of the things I’ve learned about asymmetric warfare is that building planes and tanks are expensive. But you can buy a few hundred social media accounts and you can use those old Cold War tactics of propaganda and misinformation to change hearts and minds. 

We saw that in 2016 and we see that now. And I wonder how much of this is coming from foreign adversaries to try to fan the flames to undermine American Democracy. If people don’t believe in the integrity of the outcomes of an election, then they won’t believe the elected leaders are legitimate and that the democracy is legitimate. 

We’re really fragile right now. People have lost their livelihoods and their businesses, and there is not a good answer and no good end in sight. So, you’ve got a lot of frustration in America. Then, if you add this notion that the election is hacked or rigged, and it’s a powder keg.” 

DW: Is this time different than other periods of division within the Republican Party? It feels like it’s different, more angry. 

KW:The party has gone through this before. In 1964 with Goldwater, we had the John Birch Society and these very powerful right wing interests that took over the party for a time, and we’re at one of those periods now. 

I have been questioning my own place in this party. I know where I stand on issues, but I’m not calling for the overthrow of this election because I believe all states have the right to conduct  their own elections as they see fit. Just because you don’t like the outcome of an election, we shouldn’t be calling on Congress to throw out the results of the election. 

If that’s going to divide our party then I am going to stand to defend democracy and if some in my party don’t agree then then so be it.” 

DW: That effort to throw out an election is taking shape here in Washington, too, with Loren Culp saying his 500,000 vote loss was somehow fraudulent. 

KW: That’s where we find ourselves with the governor’s race is that we are trying to answer these allegations of massive fraud, and there is absolutely no evidence that any fraud occurred that would change the will of the voters. 

Culp and his campaign manager make these outlandish claims that have no basis in fact. 

My loyalty is to American democracy and anyone who tries to undermine that is a threat to our national security.” 

This interview was edited for clarity and length.

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