Ohio U.S. Sen. Rob Portman with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.
WASHINGTON — Some 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 Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana told reporters on Tuesday, according to a Capitol pool report.
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.
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 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.
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.
Ohio U.S. Sen. Rob Portman issued a statement saying Trump has every right to insist that all legally cast ballots are counted.
“He also has the right to appropriate recounts and the right to go to court to resolve any questions about irregularities,” Portman said. “At the same time, the Trump campaign has an obligation to come forward with evidence to support any allegations of election fraud.”
GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri refused to accept that media outlets called the race and 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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