NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) In his first week, US Senator Bill Hagerty, freshman from Tennessees, watched in horror as the Capitol riots unfold around him and decided to back down on his plans to oppose to the results of the electoral college which affirmed the victory of President Joe Bidens despite the then president, Donald Trump, pushed for weeks to block the certification.
Three months after that January vote, the Republican senator has not lost the position of Trump, who chose Hagerty as his ambassador to Japan and raised him with Senate approval in 2020.
Hagerty said he met Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida this week. They even talked about the decision Trump faces as to whether to run again in 2024, Hagerty said Trump is focused on the 2022 election and has yet to decide whether to run.
At the one-on-one meeting, Hagerty gave Trump an overview of his new election bill. Much of it would seek to withhold federal funding for election security when states put in place new electoral policies, including changes to absentee voting, bypassing their legislatures first. The proposal includes a 2020 election audit, but is more cosmetic than realistic in the current Congress, which is controlled by Democrats.
President Trump certainly felt good in the direction I was taking when he and I discussed it yesterday, Hagerty told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.
The election proposal is one of the first bills proposed by Hagerty, who is fully staffed but operates his store in temporary offices until the end of the month due to limitations during the COVID-19 pandemic. After the whirlwind of businessmen began, he settled into a pattern of regular criticism of the Biden administration, berating him for blocking the Keystone pipeline, lamenting increased border crossings and denouncing Democratic spending proposals .
He has blasted China since his campaign, and is not in favor of increasing corporate taxes or the scope of the projects involved in Bidens’ infrastructure proposal. He added that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellens’ idea of a minimum global corporate tax rate will not work with China.
I think it’s folly to believe that China is going to endorse whatever puts it in the same boat that the Biden administration is trying to put us, in terms of raising corporate taxes, Hagerty said.
He is still evaluating what is the right course for the United States in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, saying the athletes trained hard.
I don’t want to penalize these athletes, but I am open to ways to continue to express our discontent with the Chinese Communist regime, he said.
For weeks after January 6, however, some backing Trump critics on social media harassed Hagerty over the electoral college vote, which several Republicans did despite promising to oppose certification. Republican Senator from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, drew similar comments after also changing her position after the insurgency unfolded. In January, the two men said in a joint statement that the riots were a shocking day of lawlessness and that inauguration day would prove America remains the shining city on the hill.
Unlike Hagerty and Blackburn, the retired Republican Senator Hagerty replaced, Lamar Alexander, had definitely said the election was more weeks before the deadly riots.
This week, Hagerty said he initially planned to vote against certification because he wanted a commission to conduct an emergency audit in key states that were nearby. This is where Trump targeted his unsubstantiated allegations of voting irregularities and fraud, which were summarily dismissed by the courts. After the riots, Hagerty said it had become clear that the audit was not going to be discussed.
One thing I was never going to do is vote to nationalize our elections, to allow Congress … to come in and overrule the results of an election, Hagerty said.
For those who criticize his vote to certify Bidens’ victory, Hagerty said his new electoral bill, with Trump’s blessing, will show them he stands up for the integrity of the constituency.
Following a vaccine advocate at Alexander, Hagerty also said he received his COVID-19 inoculation, a decision he says is personal.
I’m more than happy to let the people of Tennessee know, and let them know, that I consider the vaccine safe and worth taking, Hagerty said.
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