A dozen Republican senators plan to object to certification of Biden's election win over Trump
A group of 11 sitting and incoming Republican senators, led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, announced in a joint statement Saturday that they will join Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and object to the certification of President Donald Trump's loss to President-elect Joe Biden when a joint session of Congress meets Wednesday.
Hawley will be joined by Cruz and six other senators: Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Braun of Indiana.
In addition, four senators-elect, who will be sworn in Sunday as members of the new Congress, will join the team objecting to the certification of Biden's 306-232 Electoral College victory. They are Sens.-elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, according to the joint statement.
Live politics updates:Cruz, other Republican senators to join Hawley in objection to certification of Biden election win
"The election of 2020, like the election of 2016, was hard fought and, in many swing states, narrowly decided," the statement said. "The 2020 election, however, featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities."
Trump and many of his supporters have alleged the election was stolen by Biden and the Democrats, though they have presented no credible evidence of widespread fraud and their legal challenges have been consistently rejected by the courts. While the senators who plan to object did not cite a basis for the allegations of fraud, they argued that the doubts sown by Trump and his allies have taken deep enough hold that they require debate.
"Whether or not our elected officials or journalists believe it, that deep distrust of our democratic processes will not magically disappear. It should concern us all. And it poses an ongoing threat to the legitimacy of any subsequent administrations," they wrote, lamenting that the Supreme Court rejected two cases challenging the election without hearing arguments.
"Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not 'regularly given' and 'lawfully certified,'" they wrote, demanding the completion of an "emergency 10-day audit."
They called for the audit to be conducted by an Electoral Commission appointed by Congress "with full investigatory and fact-finding authority." Its task would be to audit the returns "in the disputed states."
Hawley was the first senator to express any plans of objecting to the Electoral College results, which were certified by the states in early December.
In a statement Dec. 30 announcing his decision, Hawley said he can’t "vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws."
Hawley also claimed there had been an "unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden."
More:Congress is set to certify Biden's election win Jan. 6. Here's what to expect.
Along with the 12 senators, over 100 Republican members of the House may object to the certification of the electoral votes during Wednesday’s joint session, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said in an interview with "The Bulwark Podcast." Both CNN and Axios have reported it could be as many as 140 Republican House members. Last month, more than 120 GOP representatives signed a brief in support of a lawsuit seeking to overturn the election in a handful of swing states where Biden won.
Many of those Republicans now see Wednesday's vote as their last chance to help hand Trump the win.
In their joint statement Saturday, the objecting Republican senators called Wednesday's upcoming vote "the lone constitutional power remaining to consider and force resolution of the multiple allegations of serious voter fraud."
Despite the growing support for Hawley’s efforts, several congressional Republicans have expressed their disapproval, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who discouraged members of the Senate from heeding House Republicans' calls to object to the 2020 election results.
McConnell warned that an objection "isn't in the best interest of everybody," according to a report by The Hill.
The GOP leader also called the Jan. 6 vote to certify the results "the most consequential I have ever cast," according to Axios.
McConnell isn't the only Republican to disagree with the call to challenge the election result, which left the GOP with more House seats and a solid chance of maintaining hold of the Senate.
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota is also skeptical of the movement to object, which has no realistic hope of success, and its advocates.
"I think the thing they've got to remember is it's not going anywhere. I mean, in the Senate, it would go down like a shot dog," Thune told CNN. "I just don't think it makes a lot of sense to put everybody through this when you know what the ultimate outcome is going to be."
In a lengthy Facebook post, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., explained why he chose not to participate in Hawley's plans and why he has to urge his colleagues to "reject this dangerous ploy."
"Let’s be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage," Sasse said in his post. "But they’re wrong – and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government."
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., also took a shot at those fueling the baseless fraud claims, calling the allegations a "grifting scam" Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
"It is a scam. It is going to disappoint the people that believe this election was stolen, that think this is an opportunity to change it," Kinzinger said.
The movement to oppose the election certification has been strongly condemned by Democrats.
"It is a sad and tragic day for our country that 140 members of the House of Representatives, 13 senators and a defeated president are attempting to undermine American democracy and our Constitution. They will not succeed," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in a tweet in response to the GOP senators' statement Saturday.
"The political equivalent of barking at the moon. This won’t be taken seriously, nor should it be," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wrote in a tweet responding to Hawley's announcement. "The American people made a decision on November 3rd and that decision must and will be honored and protected by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives."
Though Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., did not directly address the group of objecting senators, shortly after their statement he tweeted, "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be President and Vice President of the United States in 18 days."