Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who will be the House Democratic leader in the next Congress, said Sunday it’s “unfortunate” that Republicans have targeted him as an election denier after he previously suggested that former President Donald Trump was “illegitimate.”
The New York Democrat was pressed about comments made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, equating Mr. Jeffries’ past remarks to the ex-president’s election claims amid assertions by Democrats about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“My view of the situation has been pretty clear,” Mr. Jeffries said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I supported the certification of Donald Trump’s election. I attended his inauguration, even though there were many constituents and others across the country pushing me and others to do otherwise, and found ways to work with the Trump administration, being the lead Democrat in negotiating historic criminal justice reform. That track record speaks for itself.”
Mr. McConnell last week highlighted Mr. Jeffries’ past comments, made mostly on Twitter, calling Mr. Trump “illegitimate” and targeting the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.
“The newly elected incoming leader of House Democrats is a past election denier who basically said the 2016 election was ‘illegitimate’ and suggested that we had a ‘fake president,’” Mr. McConnell said in floor remarks. “He‘s also mounted reckless attacks on our independent judiciary and said that justices he didn’t like have ‘zero legitimacy.’”
The public critique of Mr. Jeffries, which came just one day day after House Democrats chose him as their next leader, underscored the likely tense working relationship with Republicans to come.
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“It’s unfortunate that Republicans have chosen to focus on me,” Mr. Jeffries said. “House Democrats are going to focus on solving problems for the American people.”