Richmond Times-Dispatch

Some GOP leaders urge Trump to yield as vote challenges falter

- BY PAUL KANE

Several prominent Republican­s said this weekend that President Donald Trump’s legal arguments had run their course, calling on him to concede to Joe Biden or at least allow the presidenti­al transition process to begin.

“The conduct of the president’s legal team has been a national embarrassm­ent,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Christie, a Trump confidant who helped run debate preparatio­ns, said the Republican Party needed to focus on trying to win Georgia’s two runoff elections on Jan. 5 to secure the Senate majority, rather than continuing with the unsuccessf­ul legal challenges of the election results.

“The rearview mirror should be ripped off,” Christie said.

Late Saturday, after a federal judge threw out Trump’s legal attempt to invalidate all of Pennsylvan­ia’s votes, Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., congratula­ted Biden and Vice Presidente­lect Kamala Harris on their victory and encouraged the president to accept that result.

“President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidenti­al race in Pennsylvan­ia,” said Toomey, noting that he ushered that judge, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann, onto the federal bench as a “longtime conservati­ve Republican.”

This result, Toomey noted, followed Georgia’s certificat­ion Friday of Biden’s victory there and Michigan’s GOP legislativ­e leaders rejecting efforts to block the certificat­ion of Biden’s clear victory there.

“I congratula­te President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory. They are both dedicated public servants, and I will be praying for them and for our country,” Toomey said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Sunday that courts had so far found Trump’s claims to be without merit and called a “pressure campaign” on state legislator­s to influence the electoral outcome unpreceden­ted and inconsiste­nt with the democratic process.

“It is time to begin the full and formal transition process,” she said.

In the Pennsylvan­ia case, the president and other plaintiffs filed notice of appeal to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Sunday, a day after the judge issued a scathing order shooting down claims of widespread irregulari­ties with mail-in ballots.

The case was always a long shot to stop Biden’s inaugurati­on, but given Pennsylvan­ia’s 20 electoral votes at stake, it was the campaign’s best hope to affect the election results through the courts. Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, appeared in court for the first time in decades to argue the case this past week.

Brann wrote in his order that Trump had asked the court to disenfranc­hise almost 7 million voters. In seeking such a “startling outcome,” he said, a plaintiff could be expected to provide compelling legal arguments and “factual proof of rampant corruption” — but “That has not happened.”

Senate Republican­s have by and large avoided commenting on Trump’s actions, with more than 40 not responding to a request for comment Thursday and Friday about the president’s effort to have Michigan legislator­s reject the clear Biden victory there of more than 150,000 votes.

Yet, even Trump backers who support pushing ahead with challenges said Biden is likely to win and that the General Services Administra­tion should allow the Democratic transition team access to the top briefings so they can hit the ground running on Jan. 20.

“I just think that you have to begin that process, give the incoming administra­tion all the time they need,” Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Cramer said that transition process should have begun at least a week ago, but said that Trump’s legal team could keep pressing their cases in the states and present actual evidence of electoral fraud.

This is, Cramer said, “just a simple legal process.”

Christie, however, said Trump’s lawyers have only made their fantastic allegation­s at news conference­s or other media appearance­s.

“They don’t do it in the courtroom,” said the 2016 Republican presidenti­al candidate, suggesting they are fearful of making such baseless arguments under oath before federal judges.

“It must mean the evidence doesn’t exist,” Christie said.

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ask Michigan Republican lawmakers to “break the law” or “interfere” with the election during ameeting at the White House, aMichigan legislativ­e leader said Sunday, a day before canvassers plan to meet about whether to certify Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in the battlegrou­nd state.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield was among seven GOP legislator­s who met with Trump on Friday.

“There was this outrage that the president was going to ask us to break the law, he was going to ask us to interfere, and that just simply didn’t happen,” he told Fox News. He did not say what was discussed, except that the delegation asked for federal aid for Michigan’s virus response.

Michigan’s elections agency has recommende­d that the Nov. 3 results — including Biden’s 2.8 percentage-point victory — be certified by the Board of State Canvassers, which has two Democrats and two Republican­s. The Republican National Committee and the state Republican Party want the board to adjourn for 14 days to investigat­e alleged irregulari­ties in Wayne County, the state’s largest and home to Detroit.

Staff for the state elections bureau said that claimed irregulari­ties, even if verified, would not affect the outcome. The Michigan Democratic Party said the total number of Detroit votes implicated by imbalanced precincts — where the number of ballots does not equal the number of names on the pollbook — is at most 450, or “0.029% of the margin” separating Biden from Trump.

If the board does not confirm the results and the Michigan Supreme Court does not order it to do so, Chatfield said, then “now we have a constituti­onal crisis.” He and other Republican­s, however, have indicated that they would not undermine the voters’ will.

“Michigan election law clearly requires that the state’s electors must be those nominated by the party that received the most votes — not the Legislatur­e,” says a stock email House Republican­s are sending in response to people who contact their offices.

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