Trump ally Josh Hawley comes unstuck in Fox News interview about electoral college challenge

'I don't have standing to file lawsuits’ Mr Hawley admits

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 05 January 2021 18:18 GMT
Josh Hawley dodges question on election challenge

Donald Trump’s chief election challenger in the Senate, Josh Hawley, was left red-faced after being fact-checked about the electoral college during an appearance on Fox News.

Fox News host Brett Baier fact-checked the Missouri senator after asking him whether he believed President Donald Trump would still be president come January 20. 

Mr Hawley claimed it would depend on what happens on Wednesday, when Congress gathers to certify the electoral college results. 

"No, it doesn't," Mr Baier said flatly. "The states by the constitution say they certify the election. They did certify it. By the constitution, Congress doesn't have the right to overturn the certification, at least as most experts read it."

But Mr Hawley shot back: “Well, Congress is directed under the 12th amendment to count the electoral votes. There's a statute that dates back to the 19th century that says that there's a right to object, there's a right to be heard, and there's also a certification process."

Mr Baier explained to the Stanford and Yale Law graduate: "That's from 1876 Senator, the Tilden-Hayes race, in which there were three states that did not certify their electors, so Congress was left to come up with this system, this commission that eventually got to a negotiated grand bargain. But now, all of the states have certified their elections as of December 14th, so it doesn't by constitutional ways open a door to Congress to overturn that does it?"

Mr Hawley stuck to his guns. "There's a statute that governs what Congress does on January 6th, and it says that we have a vote of certification and that we have the opportunity to debate the results, to certify the results, we count them and then we certify," he said.

Mr Hawley admitted that he doesn't have any other legal avenues to challenge the election results. "My point is this is my only opportunity to raise an objection and be heard. I don't have standing to file lawsuits."

Mr Hawley said that this was his opportunity to speak for his constituents.

Former Republican Missouri Senator John Danforth slammed Mr Hawley, whom he supported during his 2018 race, saying: “Lending credence to Trump's false claim that the election was stolen is a highly destructive attack on our constitutional government. It is the opposite of conservative; it is radical”.

"At a time of extreme polarization the populist strategy is to drive America even farther apart by promoting conspiracy theories and stoking grievances. We must reject this strategy and reclaim America's historic purpose of holding our diverse nation together as one people," Mr Danforth said.

Mr Hawley was the first of what is now 13 Republican senators to announce he would reject the certification of the results. At least 140 Republicans in the House intend to do the same. 

If objections are put forward by both a House member and a senator, then a two-hour debate will be held, followed by a vote. For an objection to go through, a majority in both chambers must vote for it. 

This is highly unlikely to happen in either chamber, since Democrats control the House and only about a quarter of Senate Republicans actually support a rejection.

Fox News has felt President Trump's ire ever since it called Arizona for President-elect Joe Biden during the election. Fox News has been Mr Trump's biggest supporter among the larger American media outlets but since the election, viewers have been leaving the network for smaller channels like Newsmax and One America News Network, where baseless conspiracy theories about voter fraud have been flowing more freely than at Fox. 

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