Their Friends

Elise Stefanik (NY-21)

As the fourth-ranking House Republican since 2021, Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21) has quickly devolved from her early days as a self-described “independent voice.” Once a vocal opponent of the Trump administration’s strident xenophobia, she’s become a shameless crusader for Trump and his nativist tactics. Stefanik ascended to power by cynically embracing Trump’s lies about the 2020 election, ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (WY-AL), the previous third-ranking House Republican and a vocal opponent of the Big Lie. Stefanik’s descent towards white nationalism didn’t stop there. In her previous campaigns and through her E-PAC, she promoted the white supremacist great replacement conspiracy theory that immigrants are trying to replace white people and overthrow our democracy.

During an early January 2024 appearance on Meet The Press, Stefanik shockingly refused to commit to certifying the results of the 2024 presidential election. She deflected when host Kristen Welker asked if she would certify the 2024 results “no matter what they show.” Stefanik instead resurrected debunked claims around the 2020 election. When pressed a second time by Welker, Stefanik again refused to commit and suggested the results may not be up to the American people but instead extreme House Republicans.

“We will see if this is a legal and valid election,” Stefanik stated, unequivocally doubling down on her commitment to bigoted conspiracies that undermine our ability to live up to the promise of American democracy. Stefanik didn’t stop there, traveling deeper down the bigoted conspiratorial rabbit hole as she sought to defend indicted former President Donald Trump’s horrific echoing of Nazi rhetoric. When asked directly, Stefanik refused to condemn him and instead doubled down on Trump’s incendiary and dangerous claims that immigrants are “poisoning the blood” of the nation, even after positioning herself as a supposed foe of antisemitism amid the right-wing’s disingenuous war on college presidents.

Stefanik’s de-evolution from a moderate to a MAGA extremist began when she saw an opportunity to oppose Trump’s first impeachment vigorously. This de-evolution has included echoing racist conspiracy theories and running Facebook ads peddling the deadly white nationalist “replacement” conspiracy beginning in 2021. Her ads, which echoed lies similar to the manifestos and rhetoric of several domestic terrorists, were seen by over half a million Facebook users over two days.

After facing significant pushback for peddling deadly white nationalist talking points, Stefanik was far from chastened. She promoted the immigrant “invasion” rhetoric as a regular part of her message. She amplified this absurd and racist fiction repeatedly, including on the House floor, in the days leading up to the 2022 terrorist attack in Buffalo, New York. After the racist manifesto from the gunman pointed to the exact same white nationalist lies Stefanik was peddling, she didn’t back off but again doubled down. She even sent out a fundraising email just two days after the attack, claiming that she was the true victim for being questioned about her rhetoric. The gunman, who killed ten African-Americans in Stefanik’s home state and wounded three others in the name of fending off an immigrant “invasion,” pleaded guilty in November to terrorism and murder, among other charges.

Stefanik not only repeated the rhetoric but endorsed and supported this nativist agenda by voting for the impeachment of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and H.R.2. Stefanik also opposed the bipartisan Senate border bill, which included GOP priorities like restricting asylum. Republicans continue to lack solutions and operate on one strategy: embracing nativist extremism and xenophobia to stoke the fears of their base in the name of political expediency.