This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Katie Fossett: Can you just give me a sense of what got you to that point where you felt like you needed to speak out Wednesday? Was it just Wednesday, or had it been building for a while?

Alyssa Farah: So I made the decision back in December to step down because, well, first and foremost, going back to the day after Election Day, I was scheduled to go on TV and was prepared to deliver a message that I was proud of, which is: It looks like we lost, but Republicans were able to turn out record Hispanic support, record African-American support. And we helped get a record number of women elected to the House of Representatives.

But I was advised by the campaign to stand down. That wouldn’t be the message. We weren’t going to be acknowledging the loss, and they were going to pursue avenues to reconcile that. And I’m of the mind that it’s foundational to our democracy that if you think there was fraud or irregularities, the president absolutely should pursue legal recourse to determine if there was. But we’re now at a point where we’ve seen something like 60 cases, and conservative judges ruling against them. And there just has not been compelling evidence of anything to show that the election went any way different than it did.

And I’m someone who worked on the Hill for half a decade prior to going into the administration. And, you know, I’ve always advocated for voter ID. I think we have to have a smart policy discussion about where to go from here to avoid the potential issues of fraud. But we need to come to grips with the fact Republicans lost the election.

So, long answer short: I made the decision to step down in December because I saw where this was heading, and I wasn’t comfortable being a part of sharing this message to the public that the election results might go a different way. I didn’t see that to be where the facts lay.

So to me, it was time. And then Wednesday was really a boiling point showing that misleading the public has consequences. And what happened was unacceptable. It was unpatriotic. It was un-American. And I certainly fault the protesters—frankly, we should call them terrorists, but I fundamentally fault our elected leadership who allowed these people to believe that their election was stolen from them. The president and certain advisors around him are directly responsible.

Fossett: You also wrote, “Dear MAGA, I’m one of you.” You worked for Trump and Pence, you’ve worked for Chief of Staff Mark Meadows earlier in your career, and Congressman Jim Jordan and the House Freedom Caucus. You’ve been on the front lines of this grassroots conservative energy and you’ve watched it shift. Have you noticed a change in it over the past few years?

Farah: Well, I think it was always a balancing act. I identify as a constitutional conservative; somebody who believes in limited government, free markets, a strong national defense budget and ultimately that we should adhere to the Constitution. I think there are a lot of people like myself within the Trump administration. I worked for Pence before I did President Trump. And I think he’s somebody who foundationally sees our country the same way that I do.

And I think that that’s still an overwhelming part of the Republican party. But I do think that there’s been an undercurrent of a sort of populist energy that I don’t think is a bad thing. I think it’s helped us grow our numbers in terms of support. So I think Republicans have learned how to adapt to talking to working-class Americans to bring them into the fold.

But what is dangerous is when you have heightened rhetoric that is so divisive and that makes people feel that it’s us versus them at all times rather than we’re one America; we’re a unified nation. And what was scary Wednesday is that it felt like our democracy was at a very shaky point for a country. It’s just so intrinsic to who we are to be able to fervently but civilly disagree.

Fossett: Did you feel any responsibility, or guilt, for your role, watching Wednesday?

Farah: What you’re going to find is that there are many, many people like myself who are tremendously proud of a number of policy accomplishments that we were able to get done under the Trump administration. For me, it was rebuilding our military. It was working to safely withdraw troops from Afghanistan. It was tax cuts that put money back in the pockets of millions of Americans. It’s strengthening our alliances within NATO trade deals that ultimately benefit American agriculture sector and manufacturing. And I’d say also rebuilding the judiciary. I think that there’s a lot to be proud of. I think there are plenty of people who already are criticizing me, and wanting to frame me as a turncoat or somebody trying to change my tone. And I’m not—I am proud of much of what we did.

But Wednesday crossed a line in rhetoric. Telling people an election was stolen is crossing a line, because it’s just not where the facts land. And we have a duty to be honest with the American public.

One thing that I will say, just in terms of regrets or culpability, I’ve always seen my role as public service. Of all the roles I’ve served in the administration, you swear an oath of office; you raise your hand and you promise an oath to the Constitution and to uphold it against enemies, foreign and domestic. And to me, I’ve always approached what I do from the perspective of: I’m going to stay in a role even when there may be things I fervently disagree with, so long as I think I can influence outcomes for the better. And I think in December, I was very aware of the fact that things were trending in a direction just internally where I wasn’t going to be in a position to influence outcomes or to influence the public messaging around it.

So for me, I don’t have respect for some of the folks, whether it was … I forget the name of the Anonymous guy because none of us actually knew who he was. But those people just left and didn’t try. They were supposedly in the room but didn’t try to improve things.

Fossett: Do you think that anyone had that power, that ability to influence, or to tell Trump that the election fraud talk was going too far?

Farah: I know there were there were a number of people who conveyed that early on. But I do think that it took on a life of its own. And early on, I truly believe the president knew—when I was still in the White House in late November, he knew that he had lost. And it was something that was almost like tacitly acknowledged, like we’re going to make this painful, but we know what happened. And then, something turned. And I don’t know if it was the wrong advisors getting to him with bad information or what.

Fossett: Did you think that anyone was in a position to do that? Mark Meadows, whom you’ve worked with for a long time, for instance. Do you think he could have said anything?

Farah: I can’t speak to what took place when I was no longer in the building. I think in the initial aftermath of the election, Trump was receiving from close aides accurate information as to, here’s where we can potentially pursue legal challenges. But it’s an uphill battle.

And one thing I would just note: The results of the election almost perfectly aligned with our internal polling. So this notion that everyone’s kind of surprised and it turned out so different than we were expecting—I mean, from what I was read into, we always knew Pennsylvania was going to be a huge uphill battle, as was Arizona. North Carolina would be a squeaker. We’d win Florida.

Georgia was the one that we just did not adequately have a read on, on how close that would be. But none of this should have come as a surprise to anyone who was following the data.

Fossett: So, you’ve said that it’s time to move on and the margins aren’t that aren’t wide enough to continue this fight. But there are some people like Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley who aren’t backing down. And I’m just wondering what you think what you think is going on inside their heads.

Farah: So I actually subscribe to the Ted Cruz school of thought in this, and he said it definitively, but it’s important that people actually hear what he’s saying in terms of how he’s appealing this. Because his position is fundamentally that 74 million people voted for the president and a number—I think based on the data I’ve seen, as many as 50 percent of them—believe that the election was rigged. And we can fault the rhetoric and any number of things for that wrong belief that they hold. But to give them trust in our institutions, which is fundamental to our democracy, we should go through the exercise to the fullest extent that we can, having a process that’s open and transparent to show that these results were accurate.

I agree in theory with what the Cruz effort is. But you also need to be very clear in your messaging to the public that your efforts are not an endeavor to undo the results of the election. They are merely to show and to give confidence in the process. And Josh Hawley did an interview, and Bret Baier pushed him on this. The best thing they could have done is told the public: We’re going to pursue this; you have a right as Americans to have these questions answered. But I need you to know the results of the election are not going to be overturned. Because every senator and every House member went into Wednesday knowing there was no scenario under the Constitution where the results were going to be overturned.

Fossett: Knowing the dynamic between the two, do you expect Trump to escalate his attacks on Pence?

Farah: I can’t personally speak to what will happen next between their relationship. But what I would hope is that the president will understand the point that I believe Pence’s team has made, which is: Had the vice president utilized what at best is a very fragile potential authority that some folks thought he had [to block the certification of the election]—but I just don’t see much constitutional backing for—he also would have set a precedent that would allow a Kamala Harris or any future vice president to have just a ridiculous level of authority to undo electoral votes. And it wasn’t a precedent that any Republican government should be setting.

Fossett: I want to ask about the mood among staffers in the White House right now. I’m sure you’re still in contact with some of them. What was their reaction to what happened Wednesday?

Farah: I mean, I’m proud of and feel privileged to have worked with the majority of the people I did in the White House. I talked to a number of them Wednesday who I think were very disturbed and distraught over what they saw. A lot of them served on Capitol Hill, have relationships on Capitol Hill and, you know, themselves were truly shaken by it.

And I think that for some people it was a turning point. I think you’ve seen a number of resignations. But what I’m hoping is that good, smart people who care about the president and who do believe in many of the things that he accomplished will be there to give him sound advice that we need to just be moving toward a peaceful transition.

Fossett: Do you think they’re worried about their careers after this?

Farah: I think that’s overstated. When you’re serving at those levels of government, the experience that you have is invaluable. And I got to work with some incredible people, and I don’t have worries about their futures.

Fossett: Would you be comfortable with Trump being the party’s nominee in 2024?

Farah: I think that it’s time for the party to move in a different direction. But I do think that we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

And we need to remember that 74 million people turned out for him, the man, but also for the vision. We should take the best lessons from the Trump era and wed them with better parts of the Republican party, maybe a more compassionate tone in the future.

But what I do fundamentally worry about is that the future could go one of two ways. You’re either fully doubling down on MAGA or you’re getting rid of everything that America-First Trump stood for and going back to a much more establishment version of the Republican party. And if we’re really going to look at ourselves and look internally, we need to think about wedding the best of what Trump offered with just fundamentally what our values are.

The most important thing is that when you do something destructive to our democracy, you lose the right to control the political direction of the party. A woman died because of lies that were spread by the president and those around him. She was a veteran. Political disagreements will persist, but they need to be resolved civilly and peacefully. It’s time to put this political moment behind us.

Fossett: Do you still respect the president?

Farah: I do. And I’ll say this: I know the man personally, and that’s why I stayed and served with him, because there is so much about him that I respect. But this was an area where things went too far. He didn’t get sound advice. He didn’t make the right call.

I fundamentally do not respect how the president handled Wednesday’s events. He allowed lives to be put in danger and never adequately denounced the actions. A strong, declarative, forceful statement from him could have stopped violence. It could have saved lives. It’s changed my belief that he should hold a future leadership position.

But I hope that he will see this as a moment to move on. It’s just time to move on.

Fossett: So you would not support him in a 2024 primary?

Farah: Not at this time. It’s a long time away but not at this time. I think our country needs something different.

Fossett: Anything else you need to say?

Farah: One thing I would say is this, and I say this out of defense for my colleagues. But I would say no problem that comes to the level of the Oval Office is easy to solve. So I’m very sympathetic to—there are really good, serious, dedicated public servants in the Trump administration.

The best thing for the party is that we come together and we take the best of Trump and we take the best of who we were before Trump. And what I mean by that, as I mentioned, the record gains that we made under Trump with African-American voters, with Hispanic voters. That was our economic prosperity and inclusiveness message. But you also need somebody—we’re learning that rhetoric matters. We need somebody to be more compassionate. This is a moment of reflection, but it’s not a moment to throw out the last four years. It’s time to learn from them.

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