Following the announcement by eleven Republican senators on Saturday that they would formally object to the results of the 2020 presidential election, the Senate GOP conference has drawn into a dispute over whether to lag behind efforts to overturn the elections.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney and Pat Toomey spoke out strongly against the doomed but alarmingly undemocratic move to reject the Biden voters on Saturday.
"The tremendous ploy of rejecting voters can increase the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic," said Romney in his first public response to the plan on Saturday. “The power of Congress to reject voters is reserved for the most extreme and unusual of circumstances. That is far from it. "
The effort – led by Texas Senator Ted Cruz and backed by at least 10 other current and future Republican senators, some of whom were elected in the same election they are currently contesting – argue that Congress will fail to confirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory This is scheduled for January 6th as "the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 elections exceed all in our lives". The senators also proposed "a 10-day emergency review of election results in the contested states".
They join Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, who last week first announced his plan to object to voting certification in Pennsylvania and has so far led an internal dispute against colleagues like Toomey, of the Pennsylvania Senate represents.
“Millions of voters who are concerned about the integrity of the elections deserve to be heard. I'll be raising an objection on their behalf on January 6, ”Hawley said on Twitter last month.
In response to a statement by Toomey on Saturday suggesting that Hawley and Cruz's efforts are in direct contradiction to the "right of the people to choose their own leaders," Hawley released a letter outlining his decision defended and urged his colleagues “not to say words to lose one another. "
"Rather than discussing electoral integrity via press release, conference call, or email," wrote Hawley, "perhaps we could have a debate in the Senate that can judge the entire American people."
Senator Josh Hawley is back after Senator Pat Toomey and others – along with at least 11 other GOP Senators – raised concerns about his plans to object to the electoral vote when a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 by e- Mail will be sent to GOP Senate Conference tonight pic.twitter.com/8wRZaEKg18
– Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 3, 2021
Hawley's testimony – as well as that of Cruz and his allies – leaves out some salient details.
In particular, the "irregularities" they cite have been extensively negotiated in Pennsylvania and every other battlefield state in the country. In the two months since Election Day, President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have filed and lost at least 60 election-related lawsuits at all levels of the state and federal judicial system alleging electoral fraud and other shortcomings, and they have failed to prove their case at every turn.
In addition, reports in battlefield states like Georgia and Wisconsin – both won by Biden – have shown no evidence of large-scale fraud or irregularities that could have affected the election result. In all 50 states and Washington, DC, election results were carefully checked by state officials and confirmed to be correct.
Any senator who may object to certification is doing little to address voter concerns about electoral integrity. As MSNBC's Chris Hayes pointed out on Twitter on Saturday, Republican leaders "spent months lying to people and telling them the elections were stolen and now turned and cited the fact that many people believe them as evidence!" The same goes for the unsubstantiated allegations made by Hawley, Cruz and the other signatories of Saturday's statement.
You have spent months lying to people and telling them the election was stolen. Now they turn around and quote the fact that many people believe them as evidence! Incredible stuff. https://t.co/daCgCuZm0l
– Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) January 2, 2021
The back and forth between Toomey and Hawley shows exactly how far the GOP has drifted. An ever-growing section of the Republican Party, led by Hawley, Cruz and Trump, seems quite ready to discard the results of a free and fair election by rejecting Biden voters on January 6 – as long as their party allows Keep White House.
Ultimately, it won't work. Even if the plan to get universal Republican support – and statements by Murkowski, Romney and Toomey, among others, show that it is not – rejecting a state's electoral roll requires a majority in both houses of Congress, that of the GOP is missing.
As Andrew Prokop of Vox explained in December,
If at least one House member and Senator in any state object to the results, each House will vote on the matter. Both the House and the Senate must vote for the objection to be successful. Otherwise it will fail. (And since the Democrats will control the new house, any objection to Biden's victory in this chamber will certainly fail.)
The Democrats will have 48 seats in the Senate on Jan. 6 – meaning only three Republicans would have to refuse to participate in the effort to overturn the election to end objections. And more than three Republican senators have registered their disdain for Hawley's and Cruz's plan.
As a result, Hawley and the Cruz Coalition can do the most with an appeal on January 6, ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20.
Many GOP leaders are giving up democracy
While the GOP plan to give Trump an unelected second term may be futile, it has gained wide acceptance across the party. In addition to the dozen Republican senators who have shopped, a sizeable majority of the House's GOP conference – 140 members, according to Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert – plans to join the effort.
High-ranking Trump officials such as Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who was a member of Congress until last year, are also on board.
"We are now with well over 100 House members and a dozen Senators ready to stand up for the integrity of the elections and to protest against certification," Meadows tweeted Saturday. "It's time to fight back."
We are now with well over 100 House members and a dozen Senators ready to stand up for the integrity of the elections and to oppose certification.
It's time to fight back.
– Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) January 3, 2021
None of this is new to Trump, of course. Aside from the steady drumbeat of election fraud allegations that have emerged from his Twitter feed since he lost his re-election, one of his favorite tactics was unsubstantiated fraud in the face of his defeat. After losing the Iowa rally in 2016 to then-presidential candidate Cruz, Trump tweeted: "Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it." That's why all the polls were so wrong and he got far more votes than expected. Bad!"
Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it. That's why all the polls were so wrong and he got far more votes than expected. Bad!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2016
However, from his seat in the White House, Trump has a much larger megaphone – and a base that's more passionate than ever. As Senators like Hawley and Cruz prepare to object to certification in Congress on January 6, Trump campaigned for a "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, DC that same day. The event is only the last in a series of pro-Trump protests since election day: the last major protest in Washington took place in early December 2020 and resulted in at least four knife wounds when violent hate groups like the Proud Boys came to town.
However, for Trump and his allies in Congress – some of whom are likely to have their eye on a 2024 presidential campaign when Trump steps down the field – this type of damage seems secondary.
"America is proud of Josh (Hawley) and the many others who have joined him," Trump tweeted on Thursday. "The US cannot have fraudulent elections!"
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