In this January 2019 file photo from the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (3rd R) speaks to members of the media as (L-R) Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. John Thune (R-SD), President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) listen. McConnell has urged Trump to reconsider vetoing a bill that would rename military bases named for Confederates. |Alex Wong, Getty Images
WASHINGTON — Some key Republicans in Congress are agreeing with President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen from him, and backing legal challenges to voting results in states won by President-elect Joe Biden.
“For the integrity of the electoral process, and the system that we have chosen to effectuate our democracy, we have got to allow our courts to hear these allegations of voting irregularities by the president and anyone else who wants to bring them forward,” Republican U.S. Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana told reporters on Tuesday, according to a Capitol pool report.
This is highly unusual. The Associated Press called Biden the winner on Saturday after the Democratic nominee gained the more than 270 electoral college votes needed to declare victory. Meanwhile, Trump has falsely said he won the election.
In Michigan, most Republicans have remained silent, although U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) and Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden) congratulated Biden on his win.
“Congratulations to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. This election was hard-fought by both candidates and ultimately the voters chose them for the job. America now looks to you to lead our country and unite us for the common good,” Mitchell tweeted.
Mitchell, who is retiring this year, also criticized Trump on Twitter repeatedly for falsely declaring he won.
Upton, a longtime Biden friend, said in a statement: “We have to find a way to come together, bridge divisions and focus on solutions that help the millions who are struggling. I am raising my hand and committing to working with President-elect Biden and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress to do exactly that.”
The Trump administration has not announced any transition plans to usher in a new presidency. Some administration officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former congressman from Kansas, have said that there will be a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” and insisted that the presidential election has not been decided.
“We have a post-election process in law, in this country, and any candidate has the right to pursue and they do that all the time,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said to reporters about the president’s decision to file lawsuits alleging unproven claims of voter fraud in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
“President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said.
Former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Brighton), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee, said Biden needs to be getting national intelligence briefings.
“Our adversaries aren’t waiting for the transition to take place. @JoeBiden should receive the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) starting today. He needs to know what the latest threats are & begin to plan accordingly. This isn’t about politics; this is about national security,” Rogers wrote on Twitter.
While Republican lawmakers stick with the president, world leaders such as Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, among others, have acknowledged Biden as the president-elect and are setting up meetings with him.
Many senators have also called for waiting until all states have finished counting votes.
GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri refused to accept that media outlets called the race and said that the outcome wouldn’t be known until Dec. 14, which is the deadline for electors in the states to cast their votes.
“The president wasn’t defeated by huge numbers. In fact, he may not have been defeated at all,” Blunt said to reporters on Tuesday, according to a Capitol pool report.
Only five Senate Republicans have publicly acknowledged that Biden is the president-elect.
Those include Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
“Presidential transitions are important, and the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect should be given every opportunity to ensure that they are ready to govern on January 20th,” Collins said in a statement.
Democrats are also pushing back, criticizing Republicans for entertaining the president’s lawsuits and remarks about voter fraud.
“The Republicans have no legal case,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said during a press conference Tuesday. “They are politically distraught.”
When GOP Sen. Joni Ernst was asked about voter fraud in her state of Iowa — a state that Trump won — she expressed doubt it had occurred.
“I don’t believe so,” she said. “Iowa has a really great election system and I trust the integrity of our process.”
House Republicans such as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California have gone a step further and have falsely claimed that Trump won the election.
“President Trump won this election,” McCarthy said during a Fox News interview. “So everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet. Do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes.”
Some newly elected House members have also backed the president and have claimed without evidence that Biden is stealing the election.
Reps.-elect Majorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado — both backed by the conspiracy group QAnon — have tweeted that they refuse to accept the election results.
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