GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics
Republican lawmakers are running out of patience with President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the election, which have failed to gain traction in court or the media.
Trump’s legal team has yet to back up its claims of widespread election fraud with enough evidence to convince Republican officials in Congress and in key states that they have any merit.
Instead, a growing number of Republicans are publicly acknowledging that Joe Biden is likely to be the next president and calling on the Trump administration to begin sharing intelligence and other transitions to allow for a smooth transfer of power.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who is close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), on Friday issued a statement asserting Biden “has a very good chance” of being the next president and urging the administration “to provide the Biden team with all transition materials, resources, and meetings necessary to ensure a smooth transition.”
Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, emphasized the importance of the next president being ready to distribute an anticipated COVID-19 vaccine.
“The prompt and orderly transfer or reaffirmation of immense power after a presidential election is the most enduring symbol of our democracy,” he said.
Rep. Fred Upton (R), a veteran Michigan lawmaker, on Friday said, “I’m not seeing any evidence of fraud that would overturn 150,000-some-odd votes,” referring to Biden’s margin of victory in Michigan.
Upton’s state was at the center of the storm this week. Trump on Thursday invited Republican legislators from Michigan to come to the White House on Friday to discuss the state’s pending certification of the election results. A tally reported by The Associated Press shows Biden leading Trump by more than 155,000 votes in Michigan.
Upton said he didn’t know how Trump’s legal team could achieve success.
“I don’t know what path they’re on,” he said.
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) on Friday said she had “great concerns” about Trump’s persistence in trying to invalidate the results of the election.
“It think that it’s time to move on,” she told CNN. “I think it’s time for him to really realize and be very clear about what’s going on.”
Republican lawmakers have defended Trump’s right to challenge the election results in court but have warned that he must back up his allegations with hard facts, something he has yet to do with enough evidence to justify throwing out thousands of ballots.
Trump’s legal team has suffered a series of setbacks in court, including a ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court finding that election officials in Philadelphia allowed Trump-allied observers to watch the counting of ballots in accordance with the law.
Vin Weber, a Republican strategist, said GOP lawmakers will ramp up pressure on Trump to wind down his attempts to undermine the results of the election if they perceive his continued legal fight is threatening their chances to win two pivotal runoff Senate races in Georgia scheduled for Jan. 5.
“I think we’re getting close to that point,” he said. “There’s no political reason for Republicans to turn on the president, he’s the titular leader of the party, he’s the leader of the party, he’s got support from a majority of Republicans.
“But the whole ballgame is Georgia,” he added. “As soon as people start thinking Republican resistance is hurting us in Georgia, that’s when you’ll see Republicans bailing on him.”
A Senate Republican aide on Friday said GOP senators are running out of patience with Trump.
“He has yet to make any decent claims in court that have facts behind it,” said the aide. “The fact that he’s summoning state legislators and calling state legislators is repugnant, and I think there is growing alarm.”
Trump’s legal team came under more scrutiny after the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and its other members held a press conference Thursday alleging a “massive fraud” and insisting that Trump “won by a landslide.”
Giuliani’s message was undermined by his own previous statement to a federal judge handling a lawsuit in Pennsylvania conceding “this is not a fraud case.”
A lawsuit in Michigan that Giuliani pointed to on Thursday as evidence of poll workers attempting to influence voters was thrown out Friday by a judge who said the plaintiffs’ charges were based on speculation and guesswork.
Former Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on GOP senators not to stand idly by as Trump makes “reckless” claims about the integrity of the election.
“Republicans have an obligation when the subject is of such importance to challenge demagoguery and patently false statements,” he said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, on Friday called the Giuliani press conference “a train wreck.”
“I thought it was absolutely incredible,” he said. “It’s all a sideshow.”
He noted that the National Governors Association is already working with Biden and his team to prepare for the next phase of the federal and state governments’ response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Darrell West, the director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said Republicans have to be mindful of the potential political fallout if Trump’s resistance to a transfer of power is seen as hampering the government’s response to the pandemic at a time when infections are surging around the country.
“Republicans are reaching the point where they’re going to start speaking out in large numbers because the whole thing is becoming a circus. They’re losing every lawsuit that they file,” he said. “Republican leaders in key states are speaking out against the Trump efforts so he’s basically running out of time.”
Biden on Friday afternoon issued a fundraising plea to donors because the General Services Administration still hasn’t issued a letter of ascertainment to give his transition team access to government facilities and resources.
“Here’s the deal: Because President Trump refuses to concede and is delaying the transition, we have to fund it ourselves and need your help,” Biden tweeted along with a link to donate to the Biden-Harris transition.
Biden warned earlier this week that Trump’s refusal to help the transition would hamper the federal response to the pandemic.
“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” he told reporters in Delaware.
Earlier in the week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) referred to Biden as the president-elect and said “that’s what the results of the preliminary results seem to indicate” and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said it would be “reasonable” to give Biden security briefing and it could be “actually a lot of help.”
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