(The Hill) — Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) issued a fiery statement Monday in response to criticism from former President Donald Trump, saying he stood by his rejection of Trump’s baseless claims about the 2020 election and that he wasn’t surprised that the former president lashed out.
“I’m disappointed but not surprised by the former president’s reaction. However, the facts remain the same. I stand by my statement. The former president lost the 2020 election,” Rounds said in a statement.
Rounds on Monday added that “if we’re being honest, there was no evidence of widespread fraud that would have altered the results of the election.”
“As a Republican Party, our focus should be on what lies ahead, not what’s in the past. Elections are about growing support for your party, not further dividing it,” Rounds said.
“Attacking Republicans certainly isn’t going to result in a winning formula. Neither is telling citizens not to vote. If we are going to win in 2022 and 2024, we have to move forward together,” he added.
Rounds accurately described the results of the 2020 election but the pushback is notable both because he’s a typically low-key senator and comes from a state deeply supportive of Trump.
Rounds found himself in Trump’s crosshairs after he said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that the 2020 election was, indeed, fair and noted that multiple reviews of alleged instances of fraud established that President Joe Biden’s victory was legitimate.
“While there were some irregularities, there were none of the irregularities which would have risen to the point where they would have changed the vote outcome in a single state,” Rounds said in the interview.
Trump lashed out at Rounds, asking if the South Dakota senator is “crazy or just stupid” and vowed that he would “never endorse this jerk again.” Rounds isn’t up for reelection until 2026.
Trump’s backlash at Rounds comes despite the two not having any major clashes during Trump’s tenure. Rounds, like most Senate Republicans, twice voted to clear Trump during the 2020 and 2021 impeachment trials. He also opposed challenging the Electoral College results on Jan. 6.
Trump has falsely claimed for months that the 2020 election was stolen. Election experts, and his own attorney general Bill Barr, have dismissed his claims of widespread fraud, and his legal team has lost dozens of court fights.