As I wrote the other day, I’m not sure any of us would have predicted, if asked about it a year ago or whatever, that Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA05) – one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress, who for over three years largely embraced Trump and spewed his own conspiracy theories – would morph into a hero following the November 3 presidential election. Yet here we are, with Riggleman’s powerful farewell address, his calls to respect the election results, his denunciation of the “manic fringes” of his own party, etc. Whatever the reasons for this turnaround, it’s comforting to see, and stands in stark relief to the cowardice and complicity by Riggleman’s Republican colleagues, including Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA01), Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA06), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA09), etc.
Anyway, a few minutes ago, Rep. Riggleman went on MSNBC and had the following (see video, below) to say:
- On Vladimir Putin congratulating Joe Biden on his election before Mitch McConnell did, Rep. Riggleman said “it’s nonsense,” and added that Trump retweeting a leading figure in the unhinged QAnon conspiracy theory is “ludicrous,” as is Trump retweeting a far-right lawyer (Lin Wood) – who said the Republican governor and secretary of state should/would end up in jail. According to Riggleman, nobody should be putting this type of stuff out there or sharing it.
- Riggleman said this stuff – QAnon, etc. – is “very dangerous…[if] you’re putting out radical language or dehumanizing others…the baseline of a lot of these conspiracy theories are anti-Semitic…dehumanizing…really just based on fantasy…you can get in real trouble.”
- “It’s going to take some courage to stand up and say, hey, we shouldn’t be retweeting nonsense…pushing conspiracy theories…leading people astray on this…I just can’t back down on this.”
- On one of Riggleman’s colleagues (Rep. Paul Mitchell) saying he’s leaving the Republican Party, Riggleman said “of course I have [thought about that],” called Mitchell “a really brave man” and asked whether the best course of action is to try to change things from the inside or outside.
- Riggleman added: “I have virtually no support in some sections of the Republican Party in Virginia, just saying the ‘kraken’ isn’t real, you know, gets me censured…in a Republican Party committee meeting yesterday I was censured for officiating a same-sex marriage a year ago and for saying that conspiracy theories are just ridiculous. How do you keep going like that?”
- “I care about being censured as much as I care about missing a Tupperware sale at WalMart. However, what it does affect is other people…If we’re not going to be a party of liberty and a party of facts, it’s very difficult to stay in it.”