U.S. Senate Republicans have been divided by efforts to challenge the 2020 Electoral College results affirming Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over sitting President Donald Trump.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close Trump ally, threw cold water Sunday on a plan by a group of his Republican colleagues to contest the presidential election results. “Proposing a commission at this late date — which has zero chance of becoming reality — is not effectively fighting for President Trump,” Graham tweeted. “It appears to be more of a political dodge than an effective remedy.”
The chairman of the influential Senate Judiciary Committee was referring to a statement made by Ted Cruz of Texas and multiple other Senate Republicans a day earlier, in which they said they would vote against accepting the election results unless Congress appoints an Electoral Commission for “an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states.”
The senators intend to vote on Jan. 6, when Congress convenes in a joint session to formally count the electoral votes, to reject the electors from what they called “disputed states,” unless that audit is completed, according to the statement.
Graham, in another tweet on Sunday, said that he will listen to his colleagues closely but acknowledged that “they have a high bar to clear.” Several other Senate Republicans, including Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Mitt Romney of Utah, have blasted the Cruz-led efforts.
“I voted for President Trump and endorsed him for re-election,” Toomey, who is retiring at the end of 2022, said in a statement.
“But, on Wednesday, I intend to vigorously defend our form of government by opposing this effort to disenfranchise millions of voters in my state and others.”
Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and a vocal Trump critic, said in his statement on Sunday that “the egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens” the country’s institutions. Cruz’s announcement came days after Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, another Trump ally, said that he will join a group of House Republicans to force a debate and vote on the Electoral College results.
This would be the third time in U.S. history that the Congress has been forced to consider an objection to the electoral count because of a motion by a senator and a member of the House. Both of the previous attempts, one in 1969 and the other in 2005, failed.
U.S. Vice President Pence, who will preside over the congressional session next week, “welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people,” Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, said in a statement.
If a written objection is lodged on Wednesday, U.S. lawmakers would meet in their individual chambers for up to two hours of debate, according to a letter written by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to her Democratic colleagues on Sunday. Unless both the House and Senate vote to reject the Electoral count for the state in question, the objection is rejected.
Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, will be officially declared the next president and vice president of the United States “at the end of the day, which could be the middle of the night,” according to Pelosi. Electors gathered in 50 states and the District of Columbia on Dec. 14, 2020 to formally vote for the next U.S. president based on the popular votes in their states.
Biden, former U.S. vice president, won 306 of the 538 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. To clinch the White House, a candidate needs at least 270 electoral votes.
Trump hasn’t conceded and is still pushing for claims of massive election fraud, despite that dozens of attempts by his legal team and allies to challenge the results in some key states had been defeated, rejected, or tossed out and that officials of his own administration said they hadn’t seen things that would change the outcome of the White House race.
According to audio posted Sunday by The Washington Post, Trump directly asked Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of Georgia, a battleground state Biden flipped from red to blue, to overturn the results during a phone call on Saturday.
During their conversation, the president repeatedly asked Raffensperger, a Republican, to “find” more than 11,000 ballots needed to overcome the gap. At one point, he said: “So look.
All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.” Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel were heard in the call rejecting Trump’s claims, explaining that the president was arguing with “wrong” data and Biden’s victory in the state was fair and accurate.