Over a dozen Republicans across the House and Senate over the weekend attacked plans by their own colleagues to object to certifying 2020 election results, calling the effort ineffective, dangerous or lacking in evidence.
Why it matters: Although nearly all lawsuits brought by President Trump, his allies and his legal team to challenge election results have been dismissed, a group of Republican senators led by Ted Cruz says they will oppose certifying Joe Biden’s win.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who joined Cruz on cable news last month to support Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, rebuked the Texan’s plan to hold an emergency audit of election results as “more of a political dodge than an effective remedy.”
- Graham said in a statement that Cruz’s proposed commission “has zero chance of becoming reality” and is “not effectively fighting for President Trump,” but added that he would “listen closely” to the challenges.
- He stressed that Republicans need to give “clear and convincing evidence” that state and federal courts, as well as state legislators, failed to act on investigations into election fraud — although Attorney General Bill Barr said that the Justice Department has not found any evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said “I think it’s a very, very bad idea” on Sunday, adding that “this is bad for the country and bad for the party.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) denounced the proposed commission as an “egregious ploy” that “dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic,” arguing that the precedent would lead partisan lawmakers to “inevitably demand the same any time their candidate had lost.”
- “My fellow Senator Ted Cruz and the co-signers of his statement argue that rejection of electors or an election audit directed by Congress would restore trust in the election. Nonsense. This argument ignores the widely perceived reality that Congress is an overwhelmingly partisan body; the American people wisely place greater trust in the federal courts where judges serve for life,” he said in a statement.
- He pointed to the inability of Trump’s legal team to provide evidence in support of their claims, as well as record-breaking voter participation in the 2020 election, as evidence that rejecting electors is not warranted.
GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (Wyo.) wrote in a memo to her Republican conference on Sunday that “objections set an exceptionally dangerous precedent,” NBC’s Alex Moe first reported and Axios has confirmed.
- “By objecting to electoral slates, members are unavoidably asserting that Congress has the authority to overturn elections and overrule state and federal courts,” she said.
- Cheney singled out Cruz’s proposal for a commission as “even more problematic” and asked if Republicans backing the effort realized “they were in essence proposing to delay the inaugural,” since the proposed audit would take months.
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement that efforts to “sow doubt about Joe Biden’s victory strike at the foundation of our republic,” and that the “Trump campaign had ample opportunity to challenge election results.”
Seven House Republicans released a statement on Sunday in opposition to GOP plans to oppose certifying election results, arguing that Congress has no authority to disqualify electors or “to make value judgments in the abstract regarding any state’s election laws.”
- “To take action otherwise — that is, to unconstitutionally insert Congress into the center of the presidential election process — would amount to stealing power from the people and the states.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters on Sunday, before swearing in for her historic fifth term, that she would not support the effort by Cruz and other Republicans.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who congratulated Biden on his election win after a Republican judge in his home state dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit, tweeted that efforts led by Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) “directly” undermine Americans’ right “to elect their own leaders.”
- “They fail to acknowledge that these allegations have been adjudicated in courtrooms across America and were found to be unsupported by evidence,” Toomey wrote.
- Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was the first senator to say he would object to the certification of Biden’s victory, in an effort that is separate from Cruz’s push, which seeks to start a commission to examine election fraud.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters on Sunday that he doesn’t believe either effort from Hawley or Cruz “has any chance for success.”
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told reporters on Sunday that he would not back the plan by Cruz and other Republicans, including his fellow Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, explaining that “it’s time to move on.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R.-La), in a bipartisan statement on Sunday alongside Collins, Romney and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, said that “further attempts to cast doubt on the legitimacy” of the 2020 election are “contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people.”
Cruz responded to critics by urging lawmakers “to tone down the rhetoric,” per Politico.
- “This is already a volatile situation. It’s like a tinder box and throwing lit matches into it and so I think the kind of hyperbole we’re seeing, the kind of angry language.”
The other side: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her caucus in a statement on Sunday that Democrats should aim “to convince more of the American people to trust in our democratic system” during the Jan. 6 vote to certify Biden’s victory.
- “Our choice is not to use the forum to debate the presidency of Donald Trump,” she said.