IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Senate Republican draws Trump's ire for telling election truths

Sen. Mike Rounds knows Donald Trump lied about the election, but he's prepared to support him in 2024 anyway. For Trump, that's not good enough.

No one has ever mistaken Sen. Mike Rounds as a "moderate." The South Dakota Republican voted with Donald Trump more than 90 percent of the time, for example, and last year, Rounds rejected President Joe Biden's position on everything from the American Rescue Plan to infrastructure.

But on one issue — the integrity of the 2020 elections — the South Dakotan has been a relative voice of reason in GOP politics.

The week after the Jan. 6 attack, for example, Rounds conceded that Trump "misled" his followers and might even be criminally liable for the assault on the Capitol. Yesterday, the Republican senator sat down with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos and made related comments:

"As a part of our due diligence, we looked at over 60 different accusations made in multiple states. While there were some irregularities, there were none of the irregularities which would have risen to the point where they would have changed the vote outcome in a single state. The election was fair, as fair as we have seen. We simply did not win the election, as Republicans, for the presidency."

As for Trump's possible criminal liabilities, Rounds said that was a matter for the Justice Department. The senator added, however, "[T]hat shield of the presidency does not exist for someone who is a former president. Everybody, you me, everybody in this country, is subject to the courts of this country."

And while I'm inclined to give Rounds at least some credit for going this far — he's made pro-election comments too many in the GOP have not — when Stephanopoulos asked the South Dakotan whether he's prepared to support Trump's candidacy if the former president runs again in 2024, Rounds didn't say no.

"I will take a hard look at it," the senator said. "Personally, what I have told people is, is I'm going to support the Republican nominee to be president."

In other words, Rounds knows that Trump lied about the election, and believes Trump might even be prosecuted, but if Trump wins the GOP nomination, the senator will put partisan considerations above all else and support a Trump-led ticket.

For the former president, that's not good enough. Furious about Rounds daring to tell the truth about the election, Trump threw another tantrum this morning.

"'Senator' Mike Rounds of the Great State of South Dakota just went woke on the Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020," the former president said in a written statement. Trump added, "Is he crazy or just stupid? ... He is a weak and ineffective leader, and I hereby firmly pledge that he will never receive my endorsement again!"

Remember, Rounds had just said he's prepared to support a Trump-led ticket, even though he knows Trump lied about the 2020 results. But for the former president, there's a Big Lie litmus test: Republicans either except the scam, or they'll face his wrath.