Trump repeats false Wisconsin election claims in interview, calls out top elections official and prominent Republicans

NOW: Trump repeats false Wisconsin election claims in interview, calls out top elections official and prominent Republicans

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Former President Donald Trump called for the state's top elections official to be removed and went after a pair of prominent Wisconsin Republicans during a radio interview Tuesday.

Trump called into "The Regular Joe Show" on WTAQ-AM in Green Bay Tuesday morning. During the interview, which lasted about 25 minutes, Trump blamed Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and his former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, for allowing Meagan Wolfe to remain in her role as administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Calling Wisconsin "a crime scene" as it related to the 2020 presidential election, Mr. Trump doubled down on false claims he's made about that election.

"You know, we did very well in Wisconsin, and after the election, they found out all these terrible things," he said. "And it would've been a different election, totally different result, and it's a shame. I mean it's a shame that a thing like this could take place."

President Joe Biden won Wisconsin in 2020 by more than 20,000 votes. A recount and multiple court rulings upheld the result. 

A subsequent lawsuit led to courts striking down the use of drop boxes, which WEC allowed for the 2020 election; that decision was not challenged in court by conservatives until after the election.

As for Wolfe, Senate Republicans voted to fire her in September. Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul then filed a lawsuit arguing Wolfe couldn't be denied confirmation by the Senate because she was never reappointed for a second term as WEC administrator. The commission's six members deadlocked in a party-line vote on whether to renominate her.

"I've heard so much about Meagan Wolfe, and it's, like, unanimous; she shouldn't be there," Mr. Trump said. "And Robin Vos, who's a Republican, is allowing her to be there. I don't understand it."

Even among Republicans, disapproval of Wolfe is far from unanimous. Don Millis, the Republican-appointed chair of the elections commission, has previously defended Wolfe's job performance.

Vos has declined to advance an effort by some of Mr. Trump's biggest supporters in the Assembly to impeach Wolfe. 

A WEC spokesperson declined to comment on behalf of Wolfe.

Priebus, who's currently helping to stage the Republican National Convention this summer in Milwaukee, has no say over state government. Trump, however, seemed to indicate Priebus would influence Vos' handling of a possible Wolfe impeachment.

"Who would think this could happen? That Reince Priebus would allow this to happen, I mean, why would he allow this to happen?" Mr. Trump said. "He has, I would imagine, a relationship with Robin Vos."

A spokesperson said Priebus did not have any comment in response to Mr. Trump's remarks. Vos' office did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Mordecai Lee, a professor emeritus at UW-Milwaukee, said the former president's insistence on relitigating the 2020 election would be worth monitoring with more than 120,000 Wisconsin voters who cast ballots for candidates other than Mr. Trump in last week's GOP presidential primary.

Trump still easily won the primary with more than 475,000 votes, but Lee said the remaining conservative holdouts could determine who wins the general election.

"This is a group of voters who are in play. This is a group of voters who really are reluctant to vote for Donald Trump," Lee said.

In 2020, Mr. Trump lost some support in the traditional Republican strongholds of Ozaukee and Waukesha counties. Voters in those suburban counties continued to trend away from Republicans in the 2022 gubernatorial election, something Lee said Mr. Trump will have to reverse in order to win this fall.

"Essentially, suburban, college-educated, middle-class voters, what they decide, that's gonna decide not only who wins Wisconsin in November, but who's the next president," Lee said.

Lee added Trump and his most ardent supporters' place on 2020 could put GOP candidates down the ballot in an uncomfortable position. Last week, U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde sought to downplay the 2020 election when asked about Trump's past comments.

"Were there issues? Yes, but we've gotta move past that," Hovde said. "We've gotta get confidence in our election process."

Lee said Hovde and other Republicans candidates will be "tiptoeing through the tulips" as they try to avoid upsetting either Trump supporters or moderate GOP holdouts.

"What are they gonna do when they're at the Republican Party of X County in Wisconsin and a Trump supporter says, 'Did Donald Trump win Wisconsin in 2020?'" Lee said. "What are they gonna say?"

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