GOP aide resigns while lashing ‘congressional enablers of this mob’
A top Republican congressional aide is resigning over his party’s support for President Donald Trump’s bid to overturn the 2020 election after it fueled deadly riots at the Capitol.
In a scathing resignation letter obtained by POLITICO, Jason Schmid, a longtime senior House Armed Services Committee staffer, slammed the GOP members of the panel who objected to President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win, particularly after a mob incited by Trump stormed the Capitol last Wednesday and left five people dead.
“Anyone who watched those horrible hours unfold should have been galvanized to rebuke these insurrectionists in the strongest terms,” Schmid wrote in a letter addressed to the committee’s top Republican. “Instead, some members whom I believed to be leaders in the defense of the nation chose to put political theater ahead of the defense of the Constitution and the republic.”
That included 13 members of the Armed Services Committee, where Schmid has worked for four and a half years as a top policy staffer. The panel’s incoming top Republican, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, was also among that group.
Ultimately, 138 House Republicans — more than half the GOP Conference — voted against certifying Biden’s Electoral College votes from Arizona, Pennsylvania or both states based on unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud that were parroted for months by Trump and his allies.
In his letter, Schmid said the GOP lawmakers “harmed the ability of every service member, intelligence officer, and diplomat to defend the nation and advance American interests.” He said they “disregarded” American democratic ideals “for cynical political purposes.”
“Regardless of the motivations behind the vote, these members bear the consequences that the men and women in harm’s way will face for many years to come,” Schmid wrote. “I cannot imagine any series of events more damaging to the already fragile US led post-World War II order that has brought more peace and prosperity to the world than at any other time in history.”
He added: “Congressional enablers of this mob have made future foreign conflict more likely, not less.”
His resignation also comes as the House is on track to impeach Trump this week for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol. Several Republicans are considering signing onto the impeachment effort, and Trump’s support on Capitol Hill has taken a major hit in recent days as more GOP lawmakers have called for him to step down and others have slammed his conduct as reckless.
Trump has falsely claimed that the presidential election was “stolen” from him, a contention that inspired his supporters to violently storm into the Capitol building last week while Congress was certifying Biden’s Electoral College votes. Ahead of the riots, Trump addressed the crowd in front of the White House and urged them to “fight like hell.”
Before working on Capitol Hill, Schmid did two tours of duty in Iraq as an Army intelligence analyst. He was wounded there while embedded with an Iraqi infantry battalion.
He later worked as chief of congressional affairs for the Defense Department’s Special Programs Office. As an Armed Services Committee staffer, he has advised lawmakers on some of the Pentagon’s most sensitive capabilities and operations.
Schmid expressed particular outrage over the fact that the insurrection at the Capitol included members of the military, and he urged the committee to ensure that the Pentagon pursues those individuals.
“These extremist influences are a grave threat to our ability to defend the nation, and they must be expelled from the force immediately,” Schmid wrote. “I deeply regret some members may no longer have the credibility needed to accomplish this work.”
Top administration officials, including three Cabinet secretaries, have stepped down in the days following the riots at the Capitol, saying Trump’s instigation of the mob was a turning point for them.
Even though most House Republicans supported Trump’s bid to overturn the election results, only eight GOP senators objected last week. That number was set to be higher before the riots at the Capitol, but a few Republicans pulled back.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered an impassioned plea against the Trump-inspired objections to Biden’s victory, warning that Congress would “hasten down a poisonous path where only the winners of an election actually accept the results.”
“If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” McConnell said.