“The outcome of this decision has brought a hail of criticism,” said a state Senator Kevin L. Matthews, founder and chairman of the commission from 1921. In an interview, he said he personally did not believe Mr Lankford would be off the commission was supposed to be eliminated, but some members believed this was inconsistent with his efforts to invalidate the election results. “There are a lot of people who have the feeling that you can’t stand for both.”
Mr Lankford and other Republicans had alleged that by challenging the election results, they were exercising their independence and acting in the interests of voters who wanted answers. In an interview on the morning of Jan. 6, he tried to distinguish his argument from Mr Trump’s false claims that the election could be overturned and said he had made it clear that there was no constitutional way to control the will of a majority of the undermine American voters.
“Everyone has their own motives for solving this,” he said. “For me we have to find a constitutional way to solve some of these problems in the long term.”
Less than four hours later, Mr. Lankford was interrupted in his opening argument by the sudden adjournment of the Senate when an aide whispered to him that the mob was in the Capitol.
In a safe place on Capitol Hill, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia remembered asking Mr. Lankford and Senator Steve Daines, Republicans from Montana, to reverse course and assist in the vote count. The couple later released a joint statement calling on all of Congress to meet and vote to confirm the election results, saying the lawlessness and chaos had caused them to change their minds.
“We disagree on a lot of things and we have a lot of lively debates in this room,” Lankford said that evening. “But we talk about it and honor each other – even in our disagreement.”
The reporting was written by Astead W. Herndon and Jim Rutenberg from New York, Reid J. Epstein and Luke Broadwater from Washington, and Mike Ives from Hong Kong.