Lindsey Graham refuses to dismiss idea to scrap Pennsylvania election results over Trump conspiracy theories

‘Everything should be on the table,’ South Carolina GOP senator says

Griffin Connolly
Washington
Friday 06 November 2020 04:06 GMT
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Lindsey Graham doesn't rule out Republican legislatures invalidating the election results

Recently re-elected GOP Senator Lindsey Graham declined to dismiss Fox News anchor Sean Hannity’s suggestion that the Pennsylvania presidential election results should be thrown out over unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

“Everything should be on the table,” the South Carolina Republican said.

In his interview on Thursday, Mr Graham echoed the Trump campaign’s baseless claims that the US election has been compromised by voter fraud, claims for which the president’s team has not provided any concrete evidence.

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“Philadelphia elections are crooked as a snake,” Mr Graham said, adding, without citing any evidence, that “dead people” and people who do not live in Pennsylvania have cast ballots there.

The Pennsylvania elections process became a target on Hannity’s primetime programme after Republicans there sued Philadelphia earlier on Thursday to allow partisan poll watchers to observe ballot-counters from six feet away. A lower court approved that order, granting poll watchers the freedom to observe vote counters within virtually an arm’s length. They had previously only been allowed to observe the counting process from a 20-foot perimeter. City officials have appealed the lower court decision, arguing the close proximity of the poll watchers creates an unsafe environment given the Covid-19 pandemic and could lead to intimidation tactics or possible tampering.

But Hannity and Mr Graham took Democrats’ decision to appeal the GOP’s lawsuit as evidence the city was somehow covering up voter fraud.

Again, no credible accusations of widespread voter fraud have surfaced in Philadelphia.

The city — and dozens of other counties — have continued counting mail-in ballots that are breaking overwhelmingly for Mr Biden over Mr Trump, cutting the president’s lead in the state to less than 50,000 votes by Thursday evening.

Mr Trump spent months telling his supporters not to vote by mail, which could explain why those votes are disproportionately being reported for Mr Biden.

If Mr Biden, who is currently at 253 Electoral College votes, wins Pennsylvania and its 20-electoral-vote prize, he will have won the US presidential election.

Read more: When will we know the 2020 US election result?

Hannity spent a large portion of his hour-long show on Thursday suggesting Pennsylvania ought to nullify its election results over a lack of transparency, a step that is virtually without precedent, especially considering the nonexistence of evidence of actual fraud.

“If there's corruption in the law — if they don't abide by the law, and they don't allow observers in as the law calls for, should they then invalidate this?” Hannity asked Mr Graham.

“I think everything should be on the table,” Mr Graham responded.

Mr Graham pledged on air on Thursday to donate $500,000 to Mr Trump’s legal defence fund, urging viewers of Hannity’s programme to do the same.

He said the president’s campaign team planned to brief the Senate GOP on Saturday about its strategy on election fraud.

Breaking a 36-hour silence after prematurely declaring victory on Wednesday, Donald Trump continued spewing unfounded conspiracy theories about election fraud and illegal ballot-counting as he addressed Americans from the White House on Thursday.

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” the president claimed, falsely alleging local elections officials had accepted ballots after Election Day and were padding the stats for his Democratic opponent.

Several news outlets and election forecasters have said it is clear Mr Biden is on the verge of sealing an Electoral College victory and thus the presidency.

The Trump campaign has provided no evidence for its claims that the votes being tabulated from absentee ballots were cast fraudulently. States like Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania have taken longer to call because of absentee ballots. But that’s only because it takes workers longer to count those votes — which in several midwestern states they were not allowed to begin processing until the day after the election — not because of “voter fraud.”

For days now, Mr Trump and his camp of political loyalists have cast doubt on the vote-counting process because the president led on Election Night in the battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania before they started counting the rest of their absentee ballots.

Michigan and Wisconsin have been called for Mr Biden, and Georgia and Pennsylvania have been trending that way since Wednesday.

Defying those ongoing election results, Mr Trump claimed on Thursday he had "won the state" of Michigan and "did likewise" in Wisconsin — both false statements.

“We were winning a lot and then our numbers started getting whittled away in secret,” the president complained.

The Trump campaign’s baseless claims of a stolen election and rampant voter fraud contrast sharply with the message from Mr Biden, the Democratic nominee who appeared by Thursday on the precipice of victory.

The Democratic former vice president has urged Americans to be “calm” as state and local election officials across the country continue counting and reporting ballots that were legally cast on or by Election Day on Tuesday.

“Democracy is sometimes messy, so sometimes it requires a little patience,” Mr Biden told reporters gathered in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware in brief remarks on Thursday. “But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that has been the envy of the world.”

America and the world were waiting on Thursday on the outcome of five states — Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Arizona — which will determine the next occupant of the Oval Office.

“In America, the vote is sacred. It's how people in this nation express their will,” Mr Biden said.

“And it is the will of the voters, not anything else, that chooses the president of the United States of America.”

The Associated Press has already called Arizona for Mr Biden, placing him at 264 electoral votes, six shy of the threshold required to win the White House. But the margin there has tightened since that projection made early Wednesday morning and several other news outlets have not made the same call.

Even if Mr Trump manages to take the lead in Arizona, he would still need to win Pennsylvania, where he has had a dwindling lead as officials continue tabulating mail-in ballots. If Mr Biden overtakes Mr Trump in Pennsylvania and that race is called, that would give him 273 Electoral College votes, and thus the presidency — even if he were to lose in Arizona, Nevada and Georgia.

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