Republicans defy leadership and sign up for Trump’s Electoral College challenge

Number of representatives sign letter calling for hearings on election fraud

Independent Staff
Thursday 24 December 2020 09:27 GMT
Mike Pence reaffirms his support for Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results

An increasing number of Republican lawmakers are going against GOP leadership, supporting a challenge to the certification of the electoral college outcome on 6 January. 

At least 20 Republican members of the House have now signed a letter to congressional leadership and the chairpersons for several congressional committees, calling for an investigation into what it described as "election theft".

“The presidential election has been the subject of dozens of lawsuits alleging voter fraud, illegal voting, and election theft which, on January 6, 2021, may or will be the subject of extensive floor debate as Congress determines whether to accept or reject various states’ electoral college vote submissions,” the letter said. So far, the Trump campaign has lost numerous lawsuits challenging the results of the election.

Republican leadership has been trying to stem the flow of members pushing to challenge the results, as the party tries to chart its post-Trump future. The second-highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, John Thune, said: “The thing they’ve got to remember is, it’s just not going anywhere. It’s going down like a shot dog,” prompting President Trump to tweet: “RINO John Thune, “Mitch’s boy”, should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn’t like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!”

Congressman-elect Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina said that he would “fund a primary challenge” against any Republican who doesn’t call for “fair, free and just elections” after an election won by President-elect Joe Biden considered free and fair by election security analysts.

The problem for any House challenge to the election results is that for there to be any vote and debate on the issue, a senator has to sign on, and the only senator who has indicated that he may do so is Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who will be sworn in on 3 January, three days before the electoral college results are to be certified by Congress. Mr Tuberville’s support will only make it possible to debate the issue, not overturn the election, since Democrats control the House.

President Trump has encouraged efforts to challenge the election results, and has reportedly been turning on anyone and everyone who doesn’t indulge his most outlandish conspiracy theories. Vice President Mike Pence presiding over the senate during the certification of the election results would be a huge betrayal in the mind of Mr Trump, Axios reported.

Republican Representative Ted Budd said in a statement that “millions of Americans” believe that the election wasn’t fair. He said: “These patriotic Americans are being sneered at by elites on the coasts, inside the Beltway, and even in Congress itself. They are being told to sit down and shut up. The American people will never do that and neither will I.”

President-elect Joe Biden won the election by over 70 electoral votes and the popular vote by more than 7 million.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly accepted Joe Biden as the president-elect and has encouraged Republicans to accept the results of the election, as an election challenge would force senate Republicans to vote it down and appear to crush President Trump’s last hope of overturning the election.

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