Press release

United States: Trump and Allies Tried to Subvert Democratic Elections; Accountability Needed

Without accountability for perpetrators and greater support for democratic institutions, the United States remains at risk of election interference or coup attempts.

Following the conclusion of a series of public hearings by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol , Freedom House president Michael J. Abramowitz issued the following statement:

“Over the past six weeks, the hearings of the select committee have presented convincing evidence that President Trump led an attempted coup d’état following his 2020 election loss. The president and his allies knowingly perpetuated the lie of a stolen election—a lie that still holds sway over nearly four in 10 Americans. Even as senior figures in the administration told the president directly and repeatedly that he had lost the election, and even as he lost every relevant legal challenge in the courts, the president refused to accept the results. Instead he promoted baseless claims of fraud that undermined public trust in the election system and inspired threats of violence against election officials, and he pressed an array of state and federal authorities to participate in unlawful efforts to reverse his defeat. Finally, on January 6, the president and his supporters knowingly encouraged a violent mob to storm the US Capitol in a last-ditch attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power. This assault caused the deaths of five people and endangered the lives of hundreds of members of Congress, staff, journalists, and law enforcement officers. January 6 was the culmination of a coup attempt, and it nearly succeeded.

“For decades, Freedom House has tracked cases of authoritarian leaders who defrauded their people and resorted to violence when they failed to earn public support, often justifying their actions with the claim that they were protecting democracy. In other cases, we have seen that even a failed coup attempt can mortally wound a democratic system. It is vital that the US Department of Justice hold the perpetrators of January 6 to account, and that lawmakers strengthen our democratic institutions against future attacks. Most immediately, Congress should enact legislation to create clearer procedures for the transfer of power and raise the threshold for challenging Electoral College votes certified by the states.

“How we respond to this unprecedented insider attempt to subvert US democracy will shape the country’s direction for decades. We cannot take it for granted that America’s institutions and leaders will be strong enough to resist similar threats in the future.”

The United States is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2022 and Free in Freedom on the Net 2021.

Freedom House is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to create a world where all are free. We inform the world about threats to freedom, mobilize global action, and support democracy’s defenders