Retiring Michigan Congressman Leaves GOP Because of Trump

In this July 24, 2019 file photo, Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Mitchell, a second-term Republican will not seek re-election to Congress in 2020. Mitchell's spokesman said Wednesday, July, 24, 2019, that he'll announce his retirement in a floor speech. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI), an outgoing member of the United States House of Representatives, announced his intention to resign from the Republican Party on Monday.

Mitchell, who has criticized President Donald Trump’s rhetoric in recent years, informed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel of his decision in a letter, which was shared on social media. In the letter, the retiring congressman claimed his departure was the result of several Republicans, including Trump, refusing to accept the results of this year’s presidential election.

“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,” Mitchell wrote, after admitting that “both administrative errors and even some fraudulent voting likely occurred this year.”

Despite calling on several states, including his native Michigan, to “audit election results, validate ballots … to ensure that every legal vote counts,” Mitchell urged Republicans to accept that Joe Biden had won the 2020 race.

“If Republican leaders collectively sit back and tolerate unfounded conspiracy theories and ‘stop the steal’ rallies without speaking out for our electoral process …. our nation will be damaged,” Mitchell wrote.

As a result of his resignation, Mitchell will no longer be considered a member of the House Republican Conference. Since Mitchell had already opted against seeking reelection this year, his departure from the GOP means that he will serve as an independent for the rest of this legislative session, which expires at the beginning of January. Once the new Congress takes session, Mitchell’s seat will fall back into GOP hands as voters from his congressional district have elected a Republican, Lisa McClain, as his successor.

Mitchell’s departure is not totally unexpected. When announcing his intention to forgo reelection in July 2019, the congressman had expressed frustration with the “rhetoric and vitriol” emanating from Washington, D.C.

“Rhetoric overwhelms policy and politics consumes much of the oxygen in this city,” Mitchell said from the floor of the House that month.

Since then, the congressman has done little to hide his belief that Trump is responsible, in part, for the current situation.

“Did any member of this conference expect that their job would start out every morning trying to go through the list of what’s happening in tweets of the day?” Mitchell told the Washington Post last year when referring to the president’s proclivity for social media. “We’re not moving forward right now. We are simply thrashing around.”

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