WASHINGTON (AP) – The unprecedented Republican effort to overthrow the presidential election has been condemned by a wave of current and former GOP officials warning that efforts to cast doubt on Joe Biden’s victory and retain the president Donald Trump in power is undermining Americans’ confidence in democracy.
Two House Democrats, meanwhile, said they sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking him to initiate an investigation. Representative Ted Lieu said they suspected Trump “of engaging in solicitation or conspiracy to commit a number of election crimes.”
Trump has garnered the support of a dozen Republican senators and 100 House Republicans to challenge the Electoral College vote when Congress meets in joint session to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 victory.
While Biden is set to be inaugurated on January 20, Trump is stepping up efforts to prevent the traditional transfer of power, tearing the party apart.
Despite Trump’s election fraud allegations, state officials insisted the election went smoothly and there was no evidence of fraud or other issues that could alter the outcome. . States have certified their results as fair and valid. Of the more than 50 lawsuits the president and his allies have filed against difficult election results, nearly all have been dismissed or dropped. He also lost twice in the United States Supreme Court.
During a leaked call on Sunday (see full transcript), Trump can be heard pressuring Georgian officials to “find” him more voice.
But some high-ranking lawmakers, including prominent Republicans, are backing down.
“The 2020 election is over,” a statement from a bipartisan group of 10 senators, including Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Mitt Romney of Utah said on Sunday. .
Senators wrote that further attempts to cast doubt on the election are “contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people and only serve to undermine the confidence of Americans in the election results already determined.”
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland said, “Members of Congress’ plan to reject presidential certification makes fun of our system and who we are as Americans.
Former House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, said in a statement that “Biden’s victory is completely legitimate” and that efforts to cast doubt on the election “undermine the foundation of our republic “.
Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third House Republican, warned in a note to colleagues that objections to the Electoral College’s results “set an exceptionally dangerous precedent.”
One of the most vocal conservatives in Congress, Republican Senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton, has said he will not oppose the certified electoral count on January 6. “I’m grateful for what the president has accomplished over the past four years, which is why I campaigned vigorously for his re-election. But opposing certified electoral votes won’t give him a second term – it won’t. than to embolden Democrats who want to further erode our constitutional system of government.
Cotton said he supported further investigation of any electoral issue, regardless of the counting of the Electoral College’s certified results.
Other prominent former officials have also criticized the ongoing attack on election results. In a brief Washington Post editorial, the 10 living former defense secretaries – half who served as Republican presidents – said “the time to question results is past; the time for the formal counting of the votes of the electoral college, as prescribed by the Constitution and the statutes, has arrived.
The unusual presidential challenge, on a scale unprecedented since the aftermath of the civil war, has clouded the opening of the new Congress and is expected to consume its first days. The House and Senate will meet in a joint session on Wednesday to accept the Electoral College vote, a generally routine process that should now be a protracted struggle.
Trump refuses to give in and pressure is mounting on Vice President Mike Pence to secure victory while presiding over what is usually a ceremonial role during the congressional session. Trump draws crowds for a rally in Washington.
The president tweeted Sunday against the election tally and Republicans not on his side.
Biden’s transition spokesman Mike Gwin called the Senators’ effort a “cut” that will not change the fact that Biden is sworn in on January 20.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to her colleagues that while there was “no doubt” about Biden’s victory, their job now “is to convince the American people more to trust him. our democratic system “.
The effort in the Senate was led by Sense. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., And Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Hawley defended his actions in a lengthy email to his colleagues, explaining that his constituents in Missouri have been “highly clear” with their belief that Biden’s loss to Trump was unfair.
“It is my responsibility as a senator to voice their concerns,” Hawley wrote on Saturday night.
Hawley plans to oppose the Pennsylvania state count. But Republican Senator Pat Toomey has criticized the attack on Pennsylvania’s electoral system and said the results that named Biden the winner are valid.
Cruz’s coalition of 11 Republican senators commits to rejecting the Electoral College’s counts unless Congress launches a commission to immediately audit the election results. They focus on states where Trump has raised baseless allegations of voter fraud. Congress is unlikely to accept their request.
The group, which presented no new evidence of electoral problems, includes Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Braun of the ‘Indiana. The new senators in the group are Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
The convening of the joint session to count the votes of the Electoral College has already been the subject of objections. In 2017, several House Democrats contested Trump’s victory, but Biden, who at the time presided as vice president, quickly sacked them to assert Trump’s victory. Rarely have protests approached this level of intensity.
This is a defining moment for the Republican Party in a post-Trump era. Hawley and Cruz are both potential 2024 presidential candidates, cementing their alignment with Trump’s base of supporters. Others are trying to forge a different path for the GOP.
Pence will be watched closely as he presides over what should be an extended showdown, depending on the number of challenges mounted.
The vice president “welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections,” Pence chief of staff Marc Short said on Saturday in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Republicans against such challenges, but said little when asked about it on Capitol Hill when the Senate opened Sunday.
“We will deal with all of this on Wednesday,” he said.
Some Republicans are not planning to join the effort. Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., said on Sunday that her colleagues will have the opportunity to make their point, but they must produce evidence and facts. “They have a high bar to cross,” he said.
Congress has been reluctant to interfere with state-run electoral systems. States choose their own election officials and write their election laws. During the coronavirus pandemic, many states have adapted by allowing postal voting to mitigate the health risks of voting in person.
MarketWatch has contributed to this.