Key Republican leaders in Washington are siding with President Donald Trump in his uphill legal fight claiming vote count fraud widespread enough to overturn the projected presidential election victory of Democrat Joe Biden.
A handful of current Republican lawmakers and a broader list of former Republican officials are acknowledging Biden’s win in last week’s national election.
But the top two Republican lawmakers, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, are saying that Trump should not concede the election as his campaign files suits alleging voting and vote count irregularities.
When asked at the State Department Tuesday whether he would cooperate with President-elect Biden’s team on a transition, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters, “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
So far, however, Trump has lost the first five lawsuits that have been decided, with perhaps a dozen more yet to be considered by judges throughout the country. U.S. political analysts say that even if Trump is successful in some of the remaining suits challenging vote totals in a handful of states, the changes in the tally would not be enough to overturn Biden’s victory.
Biden’s winning effort to become the country’s 46th president became apparent on November 7, when the outcome in the eastern state of Pennsylvania tipped in his favor, giving him more than the 270 votes needed in the Electoral College, which decides the outcome of U.S. presidential elections, rather than the national popular vote.
But Trump has neither conceded defeat nor called Biden to discuss the contentious election.
Instead, the U.S. leader, now likely the third president in the last four decades to lose a re-election bid after a single term in the White House, has posted a string of claims on Twitter asserting election fraud.
“WATCH FOR MASSIVE BALLOT COUNTING ABUSE AND, JUST LIKE THE EARLY VACCINE, REMEMBER I TOLD YOU SO!” Trump said in all caps Tuesday morning.
WATCH FOR MASSIVE BALLOT COUNTING ABUSE AND, JUST LIKE THE EARLY VACCINE, REMEMBER I TOLD YOU SO!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2020
“WE ARE MAKING BIG PROGRESS. RESULTS START TO COME IN NEXT WEEK. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” he claimed in another tweet.
WE ARE MAKING BIG PROGRESS. RESULTS START TO COME IN NEXT WEEK. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2020
Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who lost the 2012 presidential election to former President Barack Obama, and a handful of other Republican lawmakers have congratulated Biden, but most have either encouraged Trump’s challenges or stayed silent about Biden’s win.
"We have the system in place to consider concerns and President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options," Senate Republican leader McConnell said Monday, adding that the process will play out and "reach its conclusion."
House Republican leader McCarthy told Fox News on Sunday: "We've had the most competitive presidential race in our modern history. That's why every vote should be counted, every recount to go forward, and every challenge should be heard."
Another Trump supporter, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said, "This is a contested election. The media doesn't decide who becomes president, if they did, you would never have a Republican president forever."
"Do not concede, Mr. President, fight hard," Graham told Fox News.
Attorney General William Barr authorized 92 federal prosecutors throughout the country to pursue credible accusations of wrongdoing, although no allegations of election-changing wrongdoing have emerged to date.
About a dozen Republican state attorneys general said they support a legal effort pending before the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania that were received after the Nov. 3 Election Day. But the small number of votes that could be affected would not be enough to change the outcome in the state.
In Georgia, Biden’s 12,293-vote lead over Trump is close enough that a recount will be conducted. However, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the top elections official in the state, emphasized it was unlikely to change the outcome there.
Some Republicans no longer in office urged Trump to accept the reality of his loss.
A group of 31 former Republican members of Congress — many of them vocal critics of the president — denounced Trump’s allegations of fraud in an open letter that called on him to concede.
Four former Homeland Security chiefs — Republicans Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff and Democrats Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson — said Trump’s legal claims should not delay Biden’s transition to power, which, barring Trump’s overturning the outcome, will be made official when Biden is inaugurated January 20.
“By all credible accounts, state election officials have been diligent in conducting a fair, legal and accurate count — county by county, state by state,” the four former Homeland Security secretaries said in an open letter. “President Trump is assured the benefit of a fair process and the right to file legal challenges and request recounts in certain states, but his legal claims cannot and must not prevent the transition process from beginning.”
Biden has ignored Trump’s claims of vote fraud and started planning for his administration’s early days in office, especially in how to curb the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 238,000 Americans, according to Johns Hopkins University.
As he claimed victory on Saturday night, he said, "It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric, to lower the temperature, to see each other again, to listen to each other again.”