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OPINION

Country before party. GOP before Trump.

In a new report, a group of prominent Republicans condemns the former president’s ‘stolen election’ claim as a threat to American democracy.

Judge Thomas Griffith is one of the Republican authors of “Lost, Not Stolen,” the most comprehensive debunking to date of the avalanche of claims made by Trump and his campaign to challenge the 2020 results.Drew Angerer/Getty

Donald Trump lost his 2020 bid for a second White House term, and few have said so with greater clarity or conviction than some of the nation’s most rock-ribbed Republicans. Against all evidence, Trump has insisted for 20 months that he was the victim of a Democratic plot to steal the presidential election. Millions of Republicans continue to believe it. In some parts of the country, that has literally become the party line.

Yet there are diehard Republicans — the very opposite of RINOs, or “Republicans in name only” — who not only refuse to parrot the stolen-election myth, but have made it their business to refute it. The House Jan. 6 hearings have put a spotlight on men and women with sterling GOP credentials — among them, former Attorney General William Barr, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, and US Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming — who supported Trump in 2020 but have too much integrity to pretend that Biden didn’t win.

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Now comes another group of Republicans with “Lost, Not Stolen,” the most comprehensive debunking to date of the avalanche of claims made by Trump and his campaign to challenge the 2020 results.

In a 72-page report, they examine each of the 64 lawsuits brought by Trump’s lawyers in six contested battleground states. They also analyze every post-election audit or review conducted in those states. Their conclusion is unequivocal: “There is absolutely no evidence of fraud in the 2020 presidential election on the magnitude necessary to shift the result in any state, let alone the nation as a whole. In fact, there was no fraud that changed the outcome in even a single precinct.”

What makes “Lost, Not Stolen” especially noteworthy is not merely its content, all of which was already on the record, though not previously assembled in one all-inclusive document. It is that its authors are prominent Republicans. They include three former federal appellate judges (Thomas Griffith, J. Michael Luttig, and Michael McConnell), two former US senators (John Danforth and Gordon Smith), two high-powered lawyers (Ted Olson and Benjamin Ginsberg), and a former chief of staff to House and Senate Republican leaders (David Hoppe).

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All eight are lifelong Republicans. All eight are committed conservatives. Many have years of experience in monitoring polling places for signs of fraud or irregularities.

“There is no principle of our republic more fundamental than the right of the people to elect our leaders and for their votes to be counted accurately,” the authors emphasize. “Claims that an election was stolen, or that the outcome resulted from fraud, are deadly serious and should be made only on the basis of real and powerful evidence.”

There is no such evidence calling into question the 2020 results.

The report itemizes every one of the 64 cases (many containing multiple counts) brought by Trump and his campaign. In case after case, the plaintiffs came up short. In Arizona, for example, eight lawsuits were filed, charging that ballots were wrongly counted, voting machines were rigged, mail-in ballot regulations were not observed, ineligible voters cast ballots, and polling places were improperly monitored. Every one of those suits was unsuccessful. Separately, an audit of the Arizona vote was conducted by Cyber Ninjas, a private firm hired by Trump supporters. Its final report not only confirmed that Trump lost the state, it widened Biden’s victory by 360 votes.

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So it went across the board. Trump’s accusations collapsed in Georgia. In Michigan. In Nevada. In Wisconsin. Only in Pennsylvania did the Trump campaign eke out a minuscule procedural victory, preventing the counting of a couple hundred provisional ballots — a microscopic fraction of the number needed to change the outcome. In the end, none of Trump’s fraud allegations survived.

“We conclude,” write the authors of the new report, “that Donald Trump and his supporters had their day in court and failed to produce substantive evidence to make their case.” By continuing to flog his specious accusations, they warn, Trump is causing “real harm to the basic foundations of the country.” Staunch Republicans they may be, but they are alarmed by the lasting damage that will be caused by their party’s continued attacks on the legitimacy of America’s electoral infrastructure.

Are Trump’s most fervent acolytes going to be persuaded by a report, even one written by unimpeachable Republicans, that their champion lost the 2020 election fair and square? Unlikely. But in clearly and fairly setting out the truth, these GOP stalwarts are preserving a measure of honor for a party that Trump has done so much to disgrace. And they are providing a demonstration for all Americans of what it means to put country ahead of party.

Jeff Jacoby can be reached at jeff.jacoby@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeff_jacoby. To subscribe to Arguable, his weekly newsletter, visit bitly.com/Arguable.

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