The Morning Call (Sunday)

11 senators say they’ll reject results of Electoral College

11 senators join in effort to oppose Electoral College

- By Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick

Sen. Ted Cruz leads a growing number of Republican lawmakers joining President Trump’s effort to overturn the election.

WASHINGTON — A growing number of Republican lawmakers are joining President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the election, pledging to reject the results when Congress meets this week to count the Electoral College votes and certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Saturday announced a coalition of 11 senators who have been enlisted for Trump’s effort to subvert the will of American voters.

This follows the declaratio­n from Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who was the first to buck Senate leadership by saying hewouldjoi­nwith HouseRepub­licans in objecting to the state tallies during Wednesday’s joint session of Congress.

Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat is forcing Republican­s to make consequent­ial choices that will set the contours of the postTrump era. Hawley and Cruz are both among potential 2024 presidenti­al contenders.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had urged his party not to try to overturn what nonpartisa­n election officials have concluded wasafree and fair vote.

The 11 senators largely acknowledg­ed Saturday they will not succeed in preventing Biden from being inaugurate­d Jan. 20 after hewontheEl­ectoral College 302-232. But their challenges, and those from House Republican­s, represent the mostsweepi­ng

effort to undo a presidenti­al election outcome since the Civil War.

“We do not take this action lightly,” 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 Trump has raised unfounded claims of voter fraud. Congress is unlikely to agree to their demand.

“A fair and credible audit — conducted expeditiou­sly and completed well before Jan. 20 —would dramatical­ly improve American’s faith in our electoral process and would signifi

cantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next president,” the group wrote. “We are not acting to thwart the democratic process, but to protect it.”

The group — which presented nonewevide­nceof election problems — includes Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, JamesLankf­ord of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Braun of Indiana, and Sens.-elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

Trump, the first president to lose a reelection bid in almost 30 years, has attributed his defeat to

widespread voter fraud, despite the consensuso­fnonpartis­anelection officials and even Trump’s 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’s also lost twice at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thedays ahead are expected to do little to change the outcome.

“Joe Biden will be inaugurate­d on Jan. 20, and no publicity stunt will change that,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the top Democraton­thepanelov­erseeing the Electoral College count.

Klobuchar said the Republican effort to create a federal commission “to supersede state certificat­ions when the votes have already been counted, recounted, litigated, and state-certified” is wrong.

The convening of the joint session to count the Electoral College votes is usually routine. While objections have surfaced before — in 2017, several House Democrats challenged Trump’s win — few have approached this level of intensity.

Caught in the middle is Vice President Mike Pence, who faces growing pressure from Trump’s allies over his ceremonial role in presiding over the session Wednesday.

Several Republican­s have indicated they are under pressure from constituen­ts back home to show they are fighting for Trump in his baseless campaign to stay in office.

Pence will be carefully watched as he presides over what is typically a routine vote count in Congress but is now heading toward a prolonged showdown that could extend into Wednesday night, depending on how many challenges are mounted.

A judge in Texas dismissed a lawsuit fromRep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and a group of Arizona electors trying to force Pence to step outside mere ceremony and shape the outcome of the vote. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle, a Trumpappoi­ntee, dismissed the suit late Friday.

To ward off a dramatic unraveling, McConnell convened a conference call with Republican senators Thursday specifical­ly to address the coming joint session and logistics of tallying the vote, according to several Republican­s granted anonymity to discuss the private call.

The Republican leader pointedly called on Hawley to answer questions about his challenge to Biden’s victory, but Hawley was a no-show, according to two of the Republican­s.

Hawley’s office said he sent an email afterward to his colleagues explaining that his constituen­ts back home are “angry and disillusio­ned” with the election outcome.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who has acknowledg­ed Biden’s victory and defended his state’s elections systems as valid and accurate, spoke up on the call, objecting to those challengin­g Pennsylvan­ia’s results and making clear he disagrees with plans to contest the result, his officesaid in a statement.

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 ?? BRYNNANDER­SON/AP ?? Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and 10 other senators are attempting to undo the presidenti­al election outcome.
BRYNNANDER­SON/AP Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and 10 other senators are attempting to undo the presidenti­al election outcome.

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