Ayyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves a Senator from Oklahoma and apologies.
Oklahoma senator James Lankford, who is a Republican of apologized on Thursday to Black constituents who were offended by his decision to join Donald Trump in trying to discredit the victory of President elect Joe Biden saying he had not realized the effort would be seen as a direct attack on the voting rights of people of color.
In a letter addressed to his “friends” in North Tulsa, which is predominantly Black, Mr. Lankford, who is white, acknowledged that his initial efforts to upend Mr. Biden’s victory which he dropped in the immediate aftermath of deadly insurrection by a pro Trump and white supremacists mob had “caused a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state.”
“After decades of fighting for voting rights, many Black friends in Oklahoma saw this as a direct attack on their right to vote, for their vote to matter, and even a belief that their votes made an election in our country illegitimate,” he wrote in a published letter on Tulsa World, an online News site, and obtained by The New York Times. “I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you. I deeply regret my blindness to that perception, and for that I am sorry.”
Lankford is facing re election in 2022, and he will soon have to decide whether to convict the Trump in an impeachment trial in which Trump faces a charge of “incitement of insurrection.”
Lankford did not offer a direct apology for questioning the legitimacy of votes. Lankford was among the handful of senators who withdrew his objection to counting some Electoral College votes cast for Biden after the largest Trump’s supporters breached the Capitol complex. But it was a striking note of contrition, particularly as several of Lankford’s Republican colleagues who lodged the challenges, continue to defiantly defend their efforts to throw out thousands of votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania.
The letter came amid calls for Lankford to resign from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, whose mission is to commemorate the racist massacre in the city’s Greenwood district, where a white mob destroyed an affluent Black neighborhood and its Black owned businesses, and killed up to 300 residents.
James Lankford is a former Southern Baptist minister who directed the largest Christian youth camp before an inaugural run for office landed him in the House in 2011, has served in the Senate since 2014. Having burnished his credentials as a conservative Republican and deficit hawk, he muscled through a primary to win a special election and finish the term of former Senator Tom Coburn before a second victory in 2016. In the Senate, Lankford has been a supporter of Trump, backing his policy initiatives and nominees even as he offered the occasional condemnation of the president’s vulgarity and personal attacks.
Lankford with other Republicans had claimed that by challenging the election results, they were exercising their independence and acting in the interests of constituents who were demanding answers. In an interview the morning of Jan. 6, he sought to distinguish his argument from Trump’s false claims that the election could be overturned, saying he had been clear that there was no constitutional way to subvert the will of a majority of American voters.
four hours later, Mr. Lankford would be interrupted in his opening argument by the Senate’s sudden adjournment, as an aide whispered to him that the mob was inside the Capitol building.
In a secure location on Capitol Hill, Senator Joe Manchin III, recalled pleading with Lankford and Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana, to support the electoral count of Joe Biden. The pair later released a joint statement calling on “the entire Congress to come together and vote to certify the election results,” and saying the lawlessness and chaos had caused them to change their minds.