Wisconsin GOP leader downplays pressure to impeach state election administrator

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin's Republican Assembly leader on Tuesday downplayed pressure he's receiving from former President Donald Trump and fellow GOP lawmakers to impeach the state's nonpartisan elections administrator, saying such a vote is “unlikely” to happen.

Some Republicans have been trying to oust state elections administrator Meagan Wolfe, who was in her position during the 2020 election narrowly lost by Trump in Wisconsin. The Senate voted last month to fire Wolfe but later admitted the vote was symbolic and had no legal effect.

Five Assembly Republicans in September introduced 15 articles of impeachment targeting Wolfe, a move that could result in her removal from office if the Assembly passed it and the Senate voted to convict. The Republican president of the Senate has also called on Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to proceed with impeachment.

A group led by election conspiracy theorists launched a six-figure television advertising campaign last month threatening to unseat Vos if he did not proceed with impeachment. On Monday night, Trump posted a news release on his social media platform Truth Social from one of GOP lawmaker's who sponsored the impeachment. The release from state Rep. Janel Brandtjen criticized Vos for not doing more to remove Wolfe.

Vos on Tuesday said Republicans were “nowhere near a consensus” and no vote on impeachment was imminent.

“I can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, but I think it is unlikely that it’s going to come up any time soon,” Vos said.

Vos has previously said he supports removing Wolfe, but he wanted to first see how a lawsuit filed on her behalf to keep her in the job plays out.

The Assembly can only vote to impeach state officials for corrupt conduct in office or for committing a crime or misdemeanor. If a majority of the Assembly were to vote to impeach, the case would move to a Senate trial in which a two-thirds vote would be required for conviction. Republicans won a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate in April.

Wolfe did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday. In September, Wolfe accused Republican lawmakers who introduced the impeachment resolution of trying to “willfully distort the truth.”

Vos called for moving on from the 2020 election.

“We need to move forward and talk about the issues that matter to most Wisconsinites and that is not, for most Wisconsinites, obsessing about Meagan Wolfe,” Vos said.

The fight over who will oversee elections in the presidential battleground state has caused instability ahead of the 2024 presidential race for Wisconsin’s more than 1,800 local clerks who actually run elections. The issues Republicans have taken with Wolfe are centered around how she administered the 2020 presidential election and many are based in lies spread by Trump and his supporters.

President Joe Biden defeated Trump in 2020 by nearly 21,000 votes in Wisconsin, an outcome that has withstood two partial recounts, a nonpartisan audit, a conservative law firm’s review and multiple state and federal lawsuits.