Republican leaders in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania responded with silence Wednesday after President Donald Trump leveled false attacks against Al Schmidt, offering neither support for Trump’s claims nor a defense for one of the most visible Republicans in the city right now.
Trump targeted Schmidt with a tweet Wednesday morning, falsely claiming he “is being used big time by the Fake News Media to explain how honest things were with respect to the Election in Philadelphia. He refuses to look at the mountain of corruption & dishonesty. We win!”
Trump lost Pennsylvania.
Twitter labeled the tweet with a disclaimer: “This claim about voter fraud is disputed.”
The tweet came 13 minutes after Schmidt, one of the three elected city commissioners who run elections, appeared on CNN to discuss conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud in the city. Trump has pushed many of them.
“I have seen the most fantastical things on social media, making completely ridiculous allegations that have no basis in fact at all,” Schmidt said.
Asked what he would tell Trump, Schmidt spoke in carefully measured words when he said, “I think people should be mindful that there are bad actors who are lying to them.”
Schmidt on Wednesday shrugged off the tweet, telling The Inquirer, “We still have lots of work to do, and we can’t let anything distract us from getting it done.”
Trump’s children and attorneys have made frequent false claims since Election Day about widespread voter fraud in the use of mail ballots in Pennsylvania. There is no evidence of any widespread voter fraud in Pennsylvania’s presidential election. Trump’s campaign itself hasn’t presented any such evidence in its numerous legal challenges contesting the result, nor has it cited in legal filings even a single specific allegation of a vote deliberately cast illegally.
Lawrence Tabas, a Philadelphia attorney who chairs the Pennsylvania Republican Party, did not respond to a request for comment. The state party’s executive director, Vonne Andring, also remained silent.
State Rep. Martina White, chair of the Republican City Committee, also did not respond to requests for comment.
Republicans across the state have parroted Trump’s false claims since Joe Biden was projected to win Pennsylvania on Saturday, a victory that secured enough Electoral College votes to make him president-elect.
Schmidt said the controversy about counting votes was difficult to understand, as was the reaction Trump provoked among his supporters.
“From the inside looking out, it feels all very deranged,” Schmidt told 60 Minutes.
The national broadcast opened with this statement from Schmidt:
“Counting votes cast on or before Election Day by eligible voters is not corruption. It is not cheating. It is democracy.”