A Republican senator from Oklahoma apologizes to Black constituents for searching for to disenfranchise them.


Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who spent weeks attempting to reverse the outcomes of the presidential election earlier than altering his thoughts on the final second, apologized on Thursday to Black constituents who felt he had attacked their proper to vote.

In a letter addressed to his “associates” in North Tulsa, which has many Black residents, Mr. Lankford wrote on Thursday that his efforts to problem the election end result had “precipitated a firestorm of suspicion amongst lots of my associates, notably in Black communities across the state.”

“After many years of combating for voting rights, many Black associates in Oklahoma noticed this as a direct assault on their proper to vote, for his or her vote to matter, and even a perception that their votes made an election in our nation illegitimate,” he wrote, according to the news site Tulsa World.

Mr. Lankford mentioned within the letter that he had by no means supposed to “diminish the voice of any Black American.” Nonetheless, he added, “I ought to have acknowledged how what I mentioned and what I did might be interpreted by lots of you.”

Mr. Lankford, who sits on a key Senate oversight committee, was initially one of many Republicans who tried to upend Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, at the same time as courts threw out baseless questions raised by President Trump and his allies about election malfeasance.

Democrats in Congress have considered Mr. Lankford as a uncommon, cooperative accomplice on voting rights, and his determination to affix these Republicans seeking to disenfranchise tens of millions of voters — lots of them Black residents dwelling in Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee and Atlanta — got here as a shock.

The primary indication he may achieve this got here throughout his look in December at a Senate listening to about alleged voting “irregularities,” when he repeated unsupported Trump marketing campaign allegations about voting in Nevada that had been debunked in courtroom almost two weeks earlier.

Mr. Lankford and different Republicans had claimed that by difficult the election outcomes, they had been exercising their independence and performing within the pursuits of constituents who had been demanding solutions.

“There are many people in my state that also need these solutions to come back out,” Mr. Lankford said a few days before the Electoral College vote was certified.

After the riot on the Capitol, Mr. Lankford was one of several Republican senators who abandoned their earlier challenge, saying the lawlessness and chaos had precipitated them to modified their minds.

In a joint assertion that night time with Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana, Mr. Lankford known as on “the whole Congress to come back collectively and vote to certify the election outcomes.”

Mr. Lankford has faced calls from Black leaders to resign from the 1921 Tulsa Race Bloodbath Centennial Fee, which is designed to commemorate the racist bloodbath within the metropolis’s Greenwood district, an prosperous Black neighborhood often known as Black Wall Road. The bloodbath, which befell 100 years in the past this spring, was one of many worst cases of racist violence in American historical past. A white mob destroyed the neighborhood and its Black-owned companies, and as much as 300 residents had been killed.