A growing number of Republican lawmakers have joined President Donald Trump’s extraordinary effort to overturn the election, pledging to reject the results when Congress meets next week to count the Electoral College votes and certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
On Saturday, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas announced a coalition of 11 senators who will vote against certain state electors unless Congress appoints an electoral commission to immediately conduct an audit of the election results.
This follows the declaration from Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who was the first to buck Senate leadership by saying he would join with House Republicans in objecting to the state tallies during Wednesday’s joint session of Congress.
Mr Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat is tearing the party apart as Republicans are forced to make consequential choices that will set the contours of the post-Trump era. Mr Hawley and Mr Cruz are both among potential 2024 presidential contenders.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had urged his party not to try to overturn what nonpartisan election officials have concluded was a free and fair vote.
The 11 senators largely acknowledged Saturday they will not succeed in preventing Mr Biden from being inaugurated on January 20 after he won the Electoral College 306-232.
But their challenges, and those from House Republicans, represent the most sweeping effort to undo a presidential election outcome since the Civil War.
“We do not take this action lightly,” Mr Cruz and the other senators said in a joint statement.
They vowed to vote against certain state electors on Wednesday unless Congress appoints an electoral commission to immediately conduct an audit of the election results.
They are zeroing in on the states where Mr Trump has raised unfounded claims of voter fraud. Congress is unlikely to agree to their demand.
The group, which presented no new evidence of election problems, includes senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Braun of Indiana, and senators-elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
Mr Trump, the first president to lose a reelection bid in almost 30 years, has attributed his defeat to widespread voter fraud, despite the consensus of nonpartisan election officials and even the attorney general that there was none.
Of the roughly 50 lawsuits the president and his allies have filed challenging election results, nearly all have been dismissed or dropped. He has also lost twice at the US Supreme Court.
The days ahead are expected to do little to change the outcome.
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