This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Katie Fossett: Can you just give me an idea of what got you to the point where you felt you had to say something on Wednesday? Was it only Wednesday or was it built for a while?
Alyssa Farah: That is why I decided to step down back in December because I wanted to look back on the day after election day, to go on TV, and I was ready to deliver a message that I was proud of: It looks like this Like we lost, but Republicans had Hispanic and African American support. And we helped get a record number of women elected to the House of Representatives.
But the campaign advised me to resign. That wouldn’t be the message. We would not acknowledge the loss and they would find ways to reconcile that. And I believe that it is fundamental to our democracy that if you believe there has been any fraud or irregularity, it is important that the President take legal action to see if it is. But we’re now at a point where we’ve seen about 60 cases and conservative judges ruled against them. And there was simply no compelling evidence that the elections went any differently than they did.
And I’m someone who worked on the hill for half a decade before going into administration. And I’ve always spoken out in favor of a voter card. I think we need to have a smart political discussion on how to proceed from here to avoid potential fraud problems. But we have to face the fact that the Republicans lost the election.
So, long answer short: I made the decision to resign in December because I saw where this was going and I was not satisfied with getting this message across to the public that the election results might be different. I didn’t see the facts there.
So it was time for me. And then Wednesday was really a boiling point that showed that misleading the public has consequences. And what happened was unacceptable. It was unpatriotic. It was un-American. And I definitely blame the protesters – frankly we should call them terrorists, but I fundamentally blame our elected leadership for allowing these people to believe that their election was stolen. The president and certain advisors around him are directly responsible.
Fossett: You also wrote: “Dear MAGA, I am one of you.” You worked for Trump and Pence, you worked for Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Congressman Jim Jordan and the House Freedom Caucus earlier in your career. You have been at the forefront of this conservative grassroots energy and have watched it shift. Have you noticed a change in the past few years?
Farah: I think it was always a balancing act. I identify as constitutionally conservative; Someone who believes in limited government, free markets, a strong national defense budget, and ultimately, constitutional compliance. I think there are a lot of people like me in the Trump administration. I worked for pence before I made President Trump. And I think he’s someone who basically sees our country the way I do.
And I think that’s still an overwhelming part of the Republican Party. But I think there has been an undercurrent of some kind of populist energy that I don’t think is a bad thing. I think it helped us increase our number of supporters. I think Republicans have learned to adjust to talking to working class Americans in order to bring them to their knees.
But what’s dangerous is when you’ve stepped up a rhetoric that is so divisive that makes people feel like we are always against them, rather than that we are an America. We are one nation. And what was scary on Wednesday is the feeling that our democracy was at a very shaky point for a country. It’s just so important who we fervently but civilly disagree with.
Fossett: Did you feel responsible or guilty for the role you saw on Wednesday?
Farah: What you will find is that there are many, many people like me who are immensely proud of a number of political achievements that we have achieved under the Trump administration. For me it was rebuilding our military. It worked to safely withdraw troops from Afghanistan. It was tax cuts that put money in the pockets of millions of Americans. It strengthens our alliances within NATO trade agreements, which ultimately benefit America’s agricultural and manufacturing sectors. And I would say also rebuilding the judiciary. I think there is a lot to be proud of. I think there are a lot of people out there who are already criticizing me and wanting to frame me as a turncoat or as someone trying to change my tone. And I’m not – I’m proud of a lot of what we’ve done.
But Wednesday crossed a line in rhetoric. Telling people that an election was stolen crosses the line because the facts just don’t land here. And we have a duty to be honest with the American public.
One thing I’ll say about regret or fault only, I’ve always seen my role as a public service. Of all the roles I have played in administration, you swear an oath of office. You raise your hand and pledge an oath on the Constitution and uphold it against enemies at home and abroad. And for me, I’ve always approached what I’m doing from the perspective: I’ll stay in a role even if there are things that I fervently disagree with, as long as I think I will influence the results for the better can. And I think by December I was very much aware of the fact that things were only going internally in a direction that I wouldn’t be able to influence the results or the public news.
For me I have no respect for some people, whether it is … I forget the name of the anonymous man because neither of us really knew who he was. But these people just left and didn’t try. They were supposedly in the room but weren’t trying to improve things.
Fossett: Do you think someone had that power to influence that ability or tell Trump that the election fraud talk went too far?
Farah: I know there were a number of people who conveyed this early on. But I think it has taken on a life of its own. And I really think the President knew early on – when I was still in the White House in late November, he knew he’d lost. And it was something that was almost implicitly recognized, like we were doing this painfully, but we know what happened. And then something turned around. And I don’t know if it was the wrong advisors who came to him with bad information or what.
Fossett: Did you think someone would be able to do that? Mark Meadows, with whom you have worked for a long time, for example. Do you think he could have said something?
Farah: I can’t talk to what happened when I wasn’t in the building. I think in the early aftermath of the elections, close associates gave Trump precise information about where we might be able to pursue legal challenges. But it’s an uphill battle.
And I just want to mention one thing: the election results are almost perfectly in line with our internal polls. That notion of everyone being surprised and turning out to be so different from what we expected – I mean, from everything I’ve read, we always knew Pennsylvania was going to be a big uphill battle, just like Arizona. North Carolina would be a squeaker. We’d win Florida.
Georgia was the one we just hadn’t read enough about how close that would be. But none of this should come as a surprise to anyone tracking the data.
Fossett: In order to, You said it was time to move on and the margins aren’t big enough for this fight to continue. But there are some people like Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley who are not backing down. And I just wonder what you think, what you think is going on in their minds.
Farah: So I actually joined the Ted Cruz School of Thought, and he definitely said it, but it’s important that people actually hear what he is saying to see how he addresses this. Because his position is basically that 74 million people voted for the president and a number – I think based on the data I’ve seen, up to 50 percent of them believe the election was rigged. And we can fault the rhetoric and any number of things for the false beliefs they represent. However, in order to give them confidence in our institutions, which is fundamental to our democracy, we should go through the exercise as much as possible and have an open and transparent process to show that these results are correct.
I theoretically agree with the Cruz effort. But you must also make it clear in your messages to the public that your efforts are not aimed at undoing the election results. They are just meant to show and give confidence in the process. And Josh Hawley did an interview, and Bret Baier pushed him to do it. The best they could have done is to tell the public: We will pursue this further. As Americans, you have the right to have these questions answered. But you need to know that the election results will not be overturned. Because every senator and member of the House of Representatives went on Wednesday knowing that there was no scenario in the Constitution where the results would be turned upside down.
Fossett: Know the dynamic between the two Do you expect Trump to escalate his attacks on pence?
Farah: I can’t speak personally about what’s going to happen next between their relationship. I would hope, however, that the President understands the point I believe Pence’s team made: Had the Vice President used what was at best a very fragile potential authority that some people thought he had [to block the certification of the election]- but I see little constitutional support – it would also have set a precedent that would allow a Kamala Harris or a future vice president to have just ridiculous authority to reverse electoral votes. And it wasn’t a precedent that a Republican government should set.
Fossett: I want to ask about the mood among the White House staff. I am sure you are still in contact with some of them. How did you react to what happened on Wednesday?
Farah: I am proud of and privileged to have worked with the majority of the people I have made in the White House. I spoke to some of them on Wednesday who I think were very upset and upset about what they were seeing. Many of them served on Capitol Hill, have relationships on Capitol Hill, and have been truly shaken themselves.
And I think it was a turning point for some people. I think you’ve seen a number of resignations. However, I hope that good, bright people who care about the President and believe in many of the things he has achieved are there to give him the sound advice we need just to work towards a peaceful transition.
Fossett: Do you think they’ll worry about their careers after that?
Farah: I think that’s an exaggeration. When you serve in these levels of government, your experience is invaluable. And I’ve had to work with some amazing people and I’m not worried about their future.
Fossett:: Would you feel comfortable if Trump were the party’s candidate in 2024?
Farah: I think it’s time for the party to move in a different direction. But I think we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
And we have to remember that 74 million people appeared for him, the man, but also for the vision. We should draw the best lessons from the Trump era and link them to better parts of the Republican Party, perhaps with a more compassionate tone in the future.
Basically, however, I am concerned that the future could go two ways. You either completely double MAGA or you get rid of everything America-First Trump stood for and return to a much more established version of the Republican Party. And if we really want to look at ourselves and internally, we need to think about marrying the best of what Trump has offered with our core values.
The most important thing is that if you do something that destroys our democracy, you lose the right to control the party’s political direction. A woman died of lies spread by the president and his fellow men. She was a veteran. Political disagreements will persist, but they must be resolved civilly and peacefully. It is time to leave this political moment behind.
Fossett: Do you still respect the president?
Farah: I do. And I’ll say the following: I know the man personally, and that’s why I stayed and served him because there is so much about him that I respect him. But this was one area where things went too far. He didn’t get any good advice. He didn’t make the right call.
In principle, I do not respect how the President dealt with what happened on Wednesday. He allowed lives to be endangered and never adequately condemned the acts. A strong, declarative, haunting statement from him could have stopped the violence. It could have saved lives. It changed my belief that he should hold a future leadership position.
But I hope he will see this as a moment to move on. It’s just time to move on.
Fossett: So you wouldn’t support him in a 2024 elementary school?
Farah: Not at the moment. It’s been a long time, but not yet. I think our country needs something different.
Fossett: Do you have anything else to say
Farah: One thing I would say is this, and I am saying this on behalf of my colleagues as a defense. But I would say that no problem that comes to the Oval Office level is easy to solve. I am very personable with – there are really good, serious, dedicated officials in the Trump administration.
The best thing for the party is that we get together and get the best out of Trump and get the best out of what we were before Trump. And what do I mean by that, as I mentioned earlier, the record profits we made under Trump with African American voters and Hispanic voters. That was our message of economic prosperity and inclusivity. But you also need someone – we learn that rhetoric is important. We need someone who is more compassionate. This is a moment for reflection, but it is not a moment to throw away the last four years. It is time to learn from them.