By Marshall Cohen, CNN
The outgoing Republican speaker of the Arizona House says Trump-backed GOP candidates might send the country “back into the dark ages” if they win key midterm races and help enact laws to make it easier to overturn elections — which he said was tantamount to “fascism.”
Rusty Bowers made the comments in an interview for an upcoming CNN special report by Jake Tapper, “American Coup: The January 6th Investigation.” The documentary, which details the major bombshells from Congress’ exhaustive inquiry into the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, premieres on CNN on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.
Bowers was a key witness at one of the public hearings this summer of the US House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.
Speaking about an unsuccessful Republican proposal to change how elections are run in Arizona, Bowers expressed alarm over provisions in the bill that would’ve created a pathway for the state legislature to cast aside the popular vote after an election and essentially anoint a winner.
“The legislature, after the election, could dismiss the election,” Bowers said in describing the proposal that he ordered all 12 state House committees to consider, virtually ensuring it would never get a vote. “And I said, welcome to fascism.”
Overturning or undermining election results is what former President Donald Trump pressured state officials to do in battleground states after he lost the 2020 election, including in Arizona, where Bowers was personally cajoled by Trump himself. Trump failed in his efforts to subvert the election results, but he and his allies have pushed for new voting laws in key states that give partisans more control over elections.
Last month, Bowers lost a Republican primary for an Arizona state Senate seat. His opponent: former state Sen. David Farnsworth, who said that he had “no doubt” that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and that there was a “conspiracy headed up by the devil himself.” This helped earn him an endorsement from Trump, who posted online that “Bowers must be defeated.”
Enough Arizona voters agreed, and Bowers lost by 30 points. Bowers admitted to CNN that he “lost big,” adding that the outcome doesn’t bode well for democracy in the Grand Canyon State.
“It is very possible that the bill that I assigned liberally to my committees will be back” if election deniers win in November, Bowers said. “The possibility of that getting a governor signature would just be a disaster. I call it the possibility of going back into the dark ages in Arizona.”
The House January 6 committee is expected to resume its public hearings this month, and lawmakers are now also preparing their final report.
Bowers testified before the panel in June on Trump’s pressure campaign to get the legislature to reject the Arizona election results. Bowers was formally censured by the Arizona Republican Party executive committee following his appearance.
The CNN documentary, “American Coup: The January 6th Investigation,” re-examines the major revelations from the committee’s inquiry, through new interviews with key players and highlights from previous hearings. The major moments include the shocking testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson and admissions from Trump’s inner circle that he knew he had lost.
With the midterms looming, the Democratic-run select committee only has a few months before the GOP potentially retakes the House. If Republicans win back control of the chamber, they’re expected to shut down the panel and to investigate the select committee itself.
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