Key Republicans: Let Trump’s election challenges play out

While some Republicans have accepted Joe Biden as president-elect, many others are fine with Trump’s legal challenges.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joins other top Republicans in calling for patience while Trump challenges election results [J Scott Applewhite/AP Photo]

It’s been a week since President Trump promised to challenge the results of the election, which was declared for President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday. Trump has also vowed not to deliver a public concession, which is a tradition among losing presidential candidates dating back to 1896.

Since the declaration on Saturday that Biden was the election’s winner, many have publicly accepted the outcome, including some Republicans. However, many more Republicans are either urging patience while Trump’s team challenges the results or have backed Trump’s unproven allegations of widespread fraudulent or illegal voting.

The dividing line, it seems, for Republicans is whether or not they have immediate or long-term electoral considerations.

Some Republicans, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Georgia Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, are acutely aware of the passion and loyalty of Trump’s base. More than 70 million Americans voted for him.

They certainly do not want to upset the president or his voters before Perdue and Loeffler’s January 5 runoff elections while the president works through the challenge process, something Biden alluded to on Tuesday while speaking with reporters.

“I think that the whole Republican Party has been put in a position, with a few notable exceptions, of being mildly intimidated by the sitting president,” Biden said.

Perdue and Loeffler’s elections will determine whether Republicans or Democrats will control the Senate next year.

Others, such as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are playing a longer game: They are expected to be fighting for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and are positioning themselves to be the heir to the Trump base.

Here’s where key Republicans stand regarding Trump’s refusal to concede:

Supporting Trump’s challenge

Vice President Mike Pence

On Monday, Pence tweeted, “Told @VP Team Today: ‘it ain’t over til it’s over .. and this AIN’T over!’ President @realDonaldTrump has never stopped fighting for us and we’re gonna Keep Fighting until every LEGAL vote is counted!”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

McConnell has backed the Trump campaign’s effort to let the challenge and recount process play out and preached calm, saying there is “no reason for alarm” regarding Trump’s election questions.

“Until the Electoral College votes, anyone who is running for office can exhaust concerns,” McConnell said Tuesday. “It’s not unusual, should not be alarming. At some point here, we’ll find out finally who was certified in each of these states. The Electoral College will determine the winner.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly backed Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results [Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AP Photo]

Pompeo, who is rumoured to be considering a presidential bid in 2024, chuckled when asked whether the State Department was working with Biden on a smooth transition. “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

He added the world is “watching our election. They understand that we have a legal process. They understand that this takes time … we must count every legal vote. We must make sure that any vote that wasn’t lawful and not be counted.”

Attorney General William Barr

Barr, in a memo to federal prosecutors, authorised them to investigate “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, The Associated Press reported Monday.

He said investigations “may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.”

The Justice Department’s director of its election crimes branch, Richard Pilger, resigned in protest hours after Barr sent his memo.

Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler

The two Georgia senators, who are facing separate runoff elections in January, called for the resignation of Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is also a Republican. The accused him of “mismanagement and lack of transparency” regarding the vote count in their state.

Raffensperger dismissed their resignation call. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday, “the president and his top allies pressured the two Republican senators to take this step, lest he tweet a negative word about them and risk divorcing them from his base ahead of the consequential runoff.”

Senator Susan Collins

Collins, a senator from Maine who just won re-election last week, offered her “congratulations to President-elect Biden on his apparent victory.” Collins did, however, nod to the president’s “questions” about the outcome and said “the President should be afforded the opportunity” to challenge the results.

Other supporters of Trump’s election challenges include Senators Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley.

Accepting the election’s outcome

Former President George W Bush

The former president on Sunday became the most prominent Republican to accept the election results extending his “warm congratulations and thanked [Biden] for the patriotic message he delivered last night”.

Bush, who won election in 2000 after a long, drawn-out recount process and legal battle, added, “President Trump has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, and any unresolved issues will be properly adjudicated. The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.”

Senator Mitt Romney

Utah Senator Romney, who has been a vocal Trump critic, was the first Republican senator to congratulate Biden, tweeting a few hours after he was declared the winner on Saturday.

Governors Charlie Baker, Larry Hogan and Phil Scott

Three of the most popular governors in the US – Republicans, who govern deeply Democratic Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont, respectively – were quick to congratulate Biden.

Scott, in his statement Saturday, said, “The voters have spoken. It is now up to each of us to rise above the anger and divisiveness to turn our focus to our common humanity and love of family, freedom and country. This is what real leadership would call on us to do – win or lose.”

Other Republicans congratulating Joe Biden on his victory include Senator Lisa Murkowski and former Governors Jeb Bush and John Kasich.

Source: Al Jazeera