A group of Republican senators led by US Senator Ted Cruz on Saturday said that they would challenge US president-elect Joe Biden’s election win — the latest last-ditch move to support US President Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine the vote.
The initiative, which appears certain to fail, flies in the face of rulings in dozens of courts and the findings by officials in several key states that there were no widespread voting problems.
The Republicans’ statement, signed by Cruz and six other senators along with four senators-elect, says that “allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes.”
The group said that when the US Congress convenes in a joint session on Wednesday — for what normally would be a pro-forma certification of Biden’s victory — they will demand the creation of a special commission to conduct an “emergency 10-day audit” of the election results.
The statement says individual states could then convene special legislative sessions and potentially revise their vote totals.
“An attempt to steal a landslide win. Can’t let it happen!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
Posting a list of the 11 senators, Trump added: “And after they see the facts, plenty more to come... Our Country will love them for it!”
They join US Senator Josh Hawley, who has said that he planned to raise objections on Wednesday.
US Representative Louie Gohmert, a Republican, has also announced his plan to oppose certification, and more than 100 House of Representatives Republicans reportedly would back his challenge.
Gohmert sought to further raise the stakes with a lawsuit that would have given US Vice President Mike Pence — traditionally in a ceremonial role in Wednesday’s session — the power to overturn the election result.
Pence opposed that effort, and a federal judge in Texas on Friday rejected the suit.
Pence is facing growing pressure from Trump’s allies over his ceremonial role in presiding over the session.
His chief of staff, Marc Short, said in a statement on Saturday that Pence “welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections.”
“Vice President Pence shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election,” the statement said.
The Hawley and Gohmert challenges will ensure that Congress must meet to hear the complaints.
The Congress sessions, sure to be contentious, are to play out against a backdrop of pro-Trump rallies in Washington this week.
As with Trump’s other attempts to reverse his election defeat, the latest political maneuvering appears doomed. Democrats control the House, and many Republicans are expected to vote on Wednesday for certification.
The 11 senators conceded that most Democrats and “more than a few Republicans” would likely oppose their initiative.
Among them is Republican US Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, a battleground state that helped Biden to victory.
Its result is expected to be among those contested on Wednesday.
“A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders,” Toomey wrote on Twitter. “The effort by Sens. Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right.”
“I voted for President Trump and endorsed him for re-election. But, on Wednesday, I intend to vigorously defend our form of government by opposing this effort to disenfranchise millions of voters in my state and others,” he wrote.
Responding to Toomey late on Saturday night Hawley criticized the “shameless personal attacks,” and urged senators to avoid “making unfounded claims about the intentions of our fellow senators.”
“I never claim to speak for another senator, but I do speak for my constituents when they raise legitimate concerns about issues as important as the fairness of our elections,” he said in a message to the Senate Republican conference, first reported by Politico.
Earlier, US Senator Mitt Romney, a vocal Trump opponent, dismissed his colleagues’ rationale as “nonsense.”
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