Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan quit the Republican Party on Monday over the GOP's refusal to admit that President Donald Trump lost the election to President-elect Joe Biden.
Mitchell, in a scathing letter to GOP leaders, wrote that Trump's baseless claims alleging widespread ballot fraud, and the Republican Party's tolerance of those claims, threatened "long-term harm to our democracy."
"It is unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote," Mitchell wrote to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
"Further, it is unacceptable for the president to attack the Supreme Court of the United States because its judges, both liberal and conservative, did not rule with his side or that 'the Court failed him,'" wrote Mitchell, whose letter first was reported by CNN.
Mitchell is retiring from Congress when the current session ends early next year.
Trump has claimed he lost Michigan and several other battleground states whose electoral votes gave Biden his margin of victory in the Electoral College, because of illegal suppression of votes for him and by artificial inflation of Biden's ballots.
The Electoral College is meeting Monday, and California's votes pushed Biden over the threshold of 270 votes needed to win the White House by 5:30 p.m. ET.
Mitchell wrote, "If Republican leaders collectively sit back and tolerate unfounded conspiracy theories and 'stop the steal' rallies without speaking out for our electoral process, which the Department of Homeland Security said was 'the most secure in American history,' our nation will be damaged."
"I have spoken out clearly and forcefully in opposition to these messages," he wrote.
"However, with the leadership of the Republican Party and our Republican Conference in the House actively participating in at least some of those efforts, I fear long-term harm to our democracy."
Mitchell, who represents Michigan's 10th District, last year said he would not seek a third term in Congress, complaining that the "rhetoric and vitriol" he saw in Washington overwhelmed the actual work of enacting policy.
Mitchell said that with more than 155 million people voting in the election, "both administrative errors and even some fraudulent voting likely occurred."
But he also said that Trump "did not lose Michigan because of Wayne County," a Democratic stronghold that the president claims saw fraud-laden ballot counts.
"Rather he lost because of dwindling support in areas including Kent and Oakland County, both previous Republican strongholds," the congressman wrote.
Mitchell said in his letter that he had voted for Trump "despite some reservations about four more years under his leadership."
But he also wrote, "The stability and strength of our democracy has been an ongoing concern for me."
"I expressed strong concerns about the president's response to Charlottesville, the anti-immigrant 'send them back' rhetoric, and even the racist comments of my own colleagues in the House."
Even as Mitchell quit the GOP, the president and his surrogates continued efforts to undermine public confidence in Biden's victory, arguing that Congress will have the final say in selecting the next president on Jan. 6.
That is the date Congress is scheduled to confirm the Electoral College's vote tallies.
Trump, his campaign and his allies have lost or withdrawn every suit that challenged the validity of ballots for Biden. On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request by Texas to file a lawsuit challenging the voting processes of Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Before the Supreme Court acted on that request, Trump had called Texas' case "the big one" that would reverse Biden's win.