GOP senators pressure Trump against election dispute

GOP senators pressure Donald Trump to wind down election disputes

Some have begun saying that Trump’s legal team still will have to present evidence for its allegations of fraud if the president is to carry on in disputing the results

Trump has refused to concede the election or authorise a transition to the Biden administration, and has filed lawsuits in several states over the outcome. Credit: Reuters file photo.Trump has refused to concede the election or authorise a transition to the Biden administration, and has filed lawsuits in several states over the outcome. Credit: Reuters file photo.

By John Harney and Laura Litvan,

More Republican senators are distancing themselves from President Donald Trump’s attempts to reverse or discredit the outcome of the election. Mitt Romney issued the strongest response, denouncing the president for acting to “subvert the will of the people.”

“Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the president has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election,” Romney, a Utah Republican, said in a statement posted on Twitter late Thursday. “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting president.”

Another senator, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, said Friday that Democrat Joe Biden “looks like he has a very good chance” of being the next president and that he should no longer be denied resources that could help with an orderly transition.

Alexander stopped short, though, of criticising Trump for his ongoing election disputes or calling on him to concede. He cited the example of 2000 Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore giving “the best speech of his life” after conceding to President George W. Bush, 37 days after that disputed election was decided after resting on the outcome in Florida.

“My hope is that the loser of this presidential election will follow Al Gore’s example, put the country first, congratulate the winner and help him to a good beginning of the new term,” Alexander, who’s retiring in January, said in a statement.

The blunt criticism by Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who’s often been at odds with Trump, stands in contrast to most other congressional Republicans, who have remained silent as the president continues to issue unsubstantiated accusations about voting fraud on Twitter.

Some have begun saying that Trump’s legal team still will have to present evidence for its allegations of fraud if the president is to carry on in disputing the results.

The president has refused to concede the election or authorise a transition to the Biden administration, and has filed lawsuits in several states over the outcome. Some of his allies have suggested he should try to convince Republican state legislators to overrule voters and give him those states’ Electoral College votes.

Trump invited two state GOP lawmakers from Michigan, one of the states where Trump is questioning the results, to meet with him at the White House on Friday.

Romney, along with Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, have broken with most Republican senators by congratulating Biden on his victory.

Earlier Thursday, Sasse issued a statement after Trump’s lawyers, led by Rudy Giuliani, held a news conference in Washington to lay out implausible scenarios of vast election-rigging schemes involving Democratic-run cities in several battleground states.

Their accusations ranged from unfounded complaints that Republicans weren’t allowed to observe vote-counting in Philadelphia and Detroit, to a claim by attorney Sidney Powell that voting machines made by Dominion Voting Systems Inc. had used software made in Venezuela at the direction of the country’s former president, Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013.

In a statement on Thursday evening, Dominion rejected the accusations, which it called “a flood of absurdities.”

Thursday’s news conference signaled that Trump may try to prolong his long-shot crusade for weeks, even as Biden warns that a delayed transition could harm the country.

“What matters most at this stage is not the latest press conference or tweet, but what the president’s lawyers are actually saying in court,” Sasse said in his statement. “And based on what I’ve read in their filings, when Trump campaign lawyers have stood before courts under oath, they have repeatedly refused to actually allege grand fraud -- because there are legal consequences for lying to judges.”

“We are a nation of laws, not tweets,” Sasse added.

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska told reporters in the Capitol on Friday morning that Trump has a “high bar” to prove allegations that vote-counting was improperly conducted in key states that include Pennsylvania, where Biden’s lead is about 82,000 votes.

“As I’ve said, you know the president has every right to see that every ballot’s counted, but they have a high bar to make,” Sullivan told reporters. Trump’s justified in asking that legal votes be counted and illegal ones aren’t, he said, but “they got to prove it in court.”

--With assistance from Steven T. Dennis and Mario Parker.