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GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election

GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election
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Republican senators don’t want to talk about Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Navajo Nation president on Arizona's new voting restrictions: An 'assault' on our rights The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez MORE’s allegations of a rigged election.

The Hill contacted the offices of all 54 Republican senators and asked them if they think the election is rigged. Thirty-four of the senators’ offices did not respond, while another three declined to comment. 

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Those that did respond offered little support for the GOP nominee’s claim.

Fifteen senators said they do not think the election is being or will be rigged. 

One, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending Police reform talks hit familiar stumbling block CNN asks Carol Baskin to comment on loose Texas tiger MORE (R-Texas), wants to “wait and see.” 

And only Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOne quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors Biden fills immigration court with Trump hires Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE (R-Ala.), a major Trump backer, offers some support for Trump’s claim. Even then, Sessions said in a statement that the media is attempting to rig the election through biased coverage; he stopped short of alleging fraud at polling places, as Trump has.

Trump’s claims that the election is being rigged and stolen from him, for which he has offered no real evidence, have dominated headlines for days.

Critics argue the allegations are irresponsible. Losing presidential candidates have long accepted the results of U.S. elections, but Trump’s complaints suggest he and his supporters will not.

“Trump is now attacking our Democracy,” GOP strategist Mike Murphy tweeted on Saturday. “Any Elected R who doesn’t condemn this anti-American thug will carry a moral stain forever.” 

Trump’s claims have won support from some quarters, however. 

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Trump supporter known for making incendiary comments, said Tuesday that he was not confident the election in Maine would be clean.

“The left, the Democratic Party, insists on not having IDs. And will people from the cemetery be voting? Yes. All around the country. The media and the Democratic Party want everybody to vote whether they’re citizens or not,” LePage said. 

Politico reported Tuesday that a number of Republican National Committee members that it contacted also believe the election could be rigged.

“I do believe that there are elements that will try to rig the election on varying degrees of scale and this will certainly affect the outcome in varying degrees,” Peter Goldberg, an RNC committeeman from Alaska, told Politico.

But in the Senate, where lawmakers face elections every six years, such opinions are rare. 

“The answer is no,” said a spokesman for Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderThe Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality MORE (Tenn.) in response to a question about whether the election will be rigged.

“Senator Daines does not think the election is rigged,” said a spokesman for Sen. Steve Daines (Mont.).

“Senator Lankford has no reason to believe the election is ‘rigged,’ ” a spokesman for Sen. James Lankford (Okla.) said.

“Senator Scott has full faith in our states’ abilities to lawfully carry out elections,” said a spokesman for Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottPolice reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Biden adds pressure to congressional talks with self-imposed deadlines Republicans can win back control in 2022 — if they don't 'cancel' themselves first MORE (R-S.C.).

“States, backed by tens of thousands of GOP and DEM volunteers, ensure integrity of electoral process. Elections are not rigged,” Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Republican reactions to Cheney's removal Flake: No greater offense than honesty in today's Republican Party Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP MORE (R-Ariz.) said in a tweet. 

Most Senate offices either didn’t respond to The Hill or offered a response of no comment.

The reluctance to talk underlines the difficulty Republican senators are having in dealing with Trump. Lawmakers who have offered criticisms of Trump, such as Flake, have faced blowback from the Republican nominee himself. That can also lead to angry calls from Trump supporters. 

Republican senators running for reelection this year have faced questions about Trump’s comments at debates. 

“This election is not being rigged, and I’m going to explain to you why it’s not being rigged in Florida and why I hope [Trump] stops saying that, why he should stop saying that,” Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioAlabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs daylight savings bill Study: Early unemployment cutoff would cost 16M people 0B The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (Fla.) said at a Senate debate on Monday.

“We have 67 counties in this state, each of which conduct their own elections,” he said. “I promise you there is not a 67-county conspiracy to rig this election.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) has also rejected Trump’s rigged-election claims. But staff for other GOP senators in tough reelection races, including Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMissouri Republicans move to block Greitens in key Senate race On The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps Senate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week MORE (Mo.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanCarper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border Fudge violated the Hatch Act, watchdog finds House conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill MORE (Ohio) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteSununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate Lobbying world Overnight Defense: NATO expanding troops in Iraq MORE (N.H.), did not respond to questions. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWashington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden Lawmakers reach agreement on bipartisan Jan. 6 commission MORE’s office also did not comment. The only member of Senate Republican leadership to comment was Cornyn.

“There are going to have to be some facts identified to support [Trump’s] conclusion and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens,” he told The Dallas Morning News.

Here are the full results of The Hill’s survey:

THE ELECTION IS NOT RIGGED (15)

Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)

Alexander’s office said: “The answer is no.”

Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Masks off: CDC greenlights return to normal for vaccinated Americans Infrastructure deal imperiled by differences on financing On The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps MORE (W.Va.)

Capito’s office did not respond to The Hill, but Capito told the Charleston Gazette-Mail: “I do not think the system is rigged.

“There are a lot of volunteers, certainly in West Virginia, that are dedicated to seeing that we have fair, timely and well-accounted for elections,” she added. “I have total confidence in our election results. I reject that theory.”

Sen. Steve Daines (Mont.)

Daines’s office said: “Senator Daines does not think the election is rigged.” 

Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa)

Ernst’s office did not respond to The Hill, but Ernst told local reporters: “I don’t subscribe to those remarks. I don’t condone what he said. I don’t condone what he’s done. 

“I think both candidates have gone too far in a lot of their remarks and it’s too bad that we don’t have role models on either side.” 

Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.)

Flake tweeted: “States, backed by tens of thousands of GOP and DEM volunteers, ensure integrity of electoral process. Elections are not rigged.”

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood causes headache for GOP in key S.C. race GOP governors move to cut unemployment benefits as debate rages over effects Trump critics push new direction for GOP MORE (S.C.)

Graham’s office pointed to the senator’s comments on CNN on Oct. 6: “I don’t think it’s good for democracy to have a major candidate for president doubt the outcome.

“I believe that the country will survive long after I’m gone but the country really is a process, and the election process I think, we need to respect it rather than create doubt about it,” Graham added. “Americans have enough to worry about already. Let’s don’t suggest the election’s rigged.”

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchFinancial market transactions should not be taxed or restricted Bottom line The Republicans' deep dive into nativism MORE (Utah)

"Sen. Hatch agrees with Gov. Pence that the candidates should accept the lawful outcome of the election."

Sen. James Lankford (Okla.)

Lankford’s office said: “Senator Lankford has no reason to believe the election is ‘rigged.’ ”

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP lawmaker calls for Wuhan probe to 'prevent the next pandemic' All congressional Democrats say they have been vaccinated: CNN Fauci on Rand Paul: 'I just don't understand what the problem is with him' MORE (Ky.)

Paul’s office did not respond to The Hill, but Paul told the Louisville Courier-Journal: “I don’t have any evidence that our elections ... are rigged.”

Sen. David Perdue (Ga.)

Perdue’s office pointed to Perdue’s comments to the Atlanta Journal Constitution in August: “This is a democracy, and if you can’t have open and honest elections, then what good is it?

“I think we’re going to have an election process that will have the full confidence of America and it will have the integrity it will need,” he added.

Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.)

“This election is not being rigged, and I’m going to explain to you why it’s not being rigged in Florida and why I hope [Trump] stops saying that, why he should stop saying that,” Rubio said at a debate Monday. “We have 67 counties in this state, each of which conduct their own elections. I promise you there is not a 67-county conspiracy to rig this election.”

Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.)

Sasse’s office: “No.”

Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) 

Scott’s office said: “Senator Scott has full faith in our states’ abilities to lawfully carry out elections.”

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate hears from Biden's high-profile judicial nominees for first time Senate Democrats take aim at 'true lender' interest rate rule Former North Carolina chief justice launches Senate campaign MORE (N.C.) 

Tillis’s office said: “America has long been a model for other democracies because of our free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power that comes with it.

“This doesn’t mean that our system is without flaws, and that’s why states take precautions to protect the integrity of the ballot box, including voter ID requirements.  With that said, our electoral system remains the envy of the world, and we should accept the will of the American people on November 8.” 

Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.)

“We have for 240 years, we’ve had the most successful, most vibrant republic in the history of the world,” Toomey said at a debate on Monday. “It depends to a very large degree on the American people having confidence in the outcome of our elections. Our elections may not always be completely perfect, but they are legitimate, they have integrity and everyone needs to respect the outcome.”

 

“WAIT AND SEE” (1) 

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas)

Cornyn’s office pointed to this section of a Dallas Morning News article, where the senator commented on the matter on Friday:

“Cyber security has obviously been a serious issue and has been for a long time. I do share some concerns about the integrity of the electoral system,” he said, adding that he doesn’t see any “grand conspiracy by state actors to try to disrupt our election system.”

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican leader stopped short of agreeing with the GOP nominee’s suggestion that a loss in November could be the result of voter fraud.

“There are going to have to be some facts identified to support that conclusion and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens,” Cornyn said.

 

YES, THERE’S AN ATTEMPT TO RIG THE ELECTION (1)

Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.)

“They are attempting to rig this election,” Sessions said at a Trump rally in New Hampshire on Saturday. “They will not succeed. They’re attempting to hide what these WikiLeaks are revealing.” 

In a statement to The Hill on Tuesday, Sessions claimed that media bias was behind the election rigging, leaving out fraud at the polls, as Trump has claimed.

“There is an attempt to rig the presidential election in the sense that voters are not receiving the information they need in order to make an informed decision this November,” Sessions said. “Instead, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCongress won't end the wars, so states must Democrats say it's up to GOP to stop Trump 2024 Hillary Clinton to speak at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders summit MORE, special interests, and our nation’s largest media outlets are spending their time and efforts raising a continuous stream of accusations against Donald Trump, while turning a blind eye to damaging evidence against her candidacy.”

 

DECLINED TO COMMENT (3) 

Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThe unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Lummis adopts 'laser eyes' meme touting Bitcoin MORE (Wyo.) 

Enzi’s office said: “We don’t have anything to say on this. These were comments from Donald Trump and we will leave it to Mr. Trump and his campaign to answer any follow up questions about them.” 

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Energy: Colonial Pipeline says it has restored full service | Biden urges people not to panic about gasoline shortages | EPA rescinds Trump-era cost-benefit rule Senate panel advances Biden's deputy Interior pick Hillicon Valley: Global cybersecurity leaders say they feel unprepared for attack | Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan | Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech MORE (Utah)

Lee’s office said: “Sen. Lee never endorsed Donald Trump, has called on him to step down, and has said quite clearly he will not vote for him. Given those facts, it is not our policy to comment on every little thing Trump says.” 

Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBiden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Bottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic MORE (La.)

Vitter’s office declined to comment. 

 

DID NOT RESPOND TO QUESTIONS (34)

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.)

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Biden says he and GOP both 'sincere about' seeking infrastructure compromise Senate panel advances Biden's deputy Interior pick MORE (Wyo.)

Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.)

Sen. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanSenate GOP opens door to earmarks Arkansas governor quietly bucking GOP's dive into culture wars Trump allies line up ahead of potentially bruising primaries MORE (Ark.)

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrRomney: Capitol riot was 'an insurrection against the Constitution' GOP senator urges Biden to withdraw support for COVID vaccine patent waiver Utah county GOP censures Romney over Trump impeachment vote MORE (N.C.)

Sen. Bill Cassidy (La.)

Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsWill the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Experts see 'unprecedented' increase in hackers targeting electric grid Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump MORE (Ind.)

Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBottom line Bottom line Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future MORE (Miss.)

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRomney: Capitol riot was 'an insurrection against the Constitution' Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Masks off: CDC greenlights return to normal for vaccinated Americans MORE (Maine)

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (Tenn.)

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Opposition to refugees echoes one of America's most shameful moments White House defends CDC outreach to teachers union MORE (Ark.)

Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week Biden says he and GOP both 'sincere about' seeking infrastructure compromise The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted MORE (Idaho)

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFormer OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden Seth Rogen says he's not in a feud with 'fascist' Ted Cruz, whose 'words caused people to die' GOP votes to replace Cheney with Stefanik after backing from Trump MORE (Texas)

Sen. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerMcCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations MORE (Neb.)

Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (Colo.)

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Grassley criticizes Biden's proposal to provide IRS with B The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns MORE (Iowa)

Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (Nev.)

Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenGOP sees immigration as path to regain power The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax MORE (N.D.)

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeInhofe tells EPA nominee he'll talk to her 'daddy' if she does not 'behave' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate nixes Trump rule limiting methane regulation | Senate confirms EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' | Fine-particle pollution disproportionately hurts people of color: research EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' MORE (Okla.)

Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler group targets Democrats with billboards around baseball stadium Warnock raises nearly M since January victory Five big takeaways on Georgia's new election law MORE (Ga.)

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonAll congressional Democrats say they have been vaccinated: CNN Immigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart GOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending MORE (Wis.)

Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (Ill.)

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWill the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Republicans have dumped Reagan for Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (Ariz.)

Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.)

Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranBipartisan Senate bill introduced to give gyms B in relief Bottom line Hawley votes against anti-Asian hate crime bill MORE (Kan.)

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRomney: Capitol riot was 'an insurrection against the Constitution' Senate panel deadlocks over Biden pick to lead DOJ civil rights division Senate GOP dismayed by vote to boot Cheney MORE (Alaska)

Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio)

Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy RischAny reduction in Energy Department's cybersecurity resources a mistake Biden cancels military-funded border wall projects Senate panel greenlights sweeping China policy bill MORE (Idaho)

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain Roy Blunt won't run for Senate seat in 2022 Lobbying world MORE (Kan.)

Sen. Mike Rounds (S.D.)

Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.)

Sen. Dan Sullivan (Alaska)

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending Senate GOP dismayed by vote to boot Cheney Top Democrat: FCC actions are a 'potential setback' to autonomous vehicles MORE (S.D.)

Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerBiden says he and GOP both 'sincere about' seeking infrastructure compromise The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted Hillicon Valley: Global cybersecurity leaders say they feel unprepared for attack | Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan | Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech MORE (Miss.)

This post was updated at 11:17 p.m. to reflect a response from Hatch's office.