Fox News anchor Chris Wallace repeatedly grilled Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) about former President Donald Trump’s role in the Capitol insurrectionist riot, asking if he believes it is a “lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.
Banks, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, has been one of the key figures in the House GOP when it comes to ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from leadership over her refusal to accept Trump’s bogus claims about the election. The Indiana congressman has called Cheney’s continued criticism of Trump “an unwelcome distraction,” adding that “this idea that you just disregard President Trump is not where” the GOP is.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Banks defended his push to replace Cheney with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), a fervent Trump supporter who has publicly backed Trump’s election lies. At the same time, Wallace noted that Banks seemed “unwilling to discuss” Cheney’s criticism of the former president.
“I'm not,” Banks declared, adding: “I know the belief that I have, that a majority of our conference have, that she has lost focus on the single mission that we have in winning back the majority, to push back against the radical Biden agenda, is the reason that she needs to be replaced.”
Unsatisfied with Banks’ dodge, the veteran Fox News anchor said he was going to “try to get at this a different way,” asking the Republican lawmaker straight-up if he believes that Joe Biden is the legitimate president.
“Yes, Joe Biden was elected. He was inaugurated on January 20,” Banks replied, prompting Wallace to get more specific with his questions.
Noting that Banks had joined a Texas lawsuit challenging Biden’s electoral victory in several states, Wallace pointed out that he also objected to Congress’ certification of Biden’s election win on Jan. 6—the day of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol.
“Do you still question whether or not Joe Biden won the election fair and square and got over 270 electoral votes, fair and square?” Wallace pressed the conservative lawmaker.
“I stand by my vote to object on January 6 and stand by the Texas lawsuit. I have serious concerns about how the election in November was carried out,” Banks replied. “That is where most Republicans in the GOP conference are unified around that single mission and goal and anything that distracts from it will hold us back from doing that.”
Wallace, meanwhile, noted that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had said that Trump “bears responsibility” for the Capitol riots, wondering aloud if Banks felt McCarthy was wrong at the time. Deflecting once again, Banks merely said “every Republican denounced” the violence and there should be a commission to study what happened that day.
“I’m just asking a question,” Wallace fired back. “Liz Cheney is saying it’s a big lie to say the election was stolen. Liz Cheney is saying that, in fact, Donald Trump contributed to the riot. I’m asking you for your opinion on those issues. Is it a lie that the election was stolen? Did he contribute to the insurrection on the Capitol?”
Insisting that he’s “never said the election was stolen,” Banks still went on to say that he has “very serious concerns with how the election was conducted last November” before reiterating that he’ll “never apologize” for objecting to the election results.
“When Liz Cheney says history’s watching and you upon can’t go forward until you resolve this question—the election was fair and square, Donald Trump played a negative role—you think she’s misguided making those points?” Wallace asked in one final question to the congressman.
“Yeah, I’ve called on Liz Cheney to rejoin the Republican team and help us go out and win a majority in the midterm election,” Banks affirmed. “That is where my frustration bubbled up.”