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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 TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills 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 CornynPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Democrats look to improve outreach to Asian and Latino communities MORE (R-Texas), wants to “wait and see.” 

And only Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsManchin flexes muscle in 50-50 Senate Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Ocasio-Cortez targets Manchin over Haaland confirmation 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 AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes 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 ScottLobbying world Powell pushes back on GOP inflation fears Trump ready to make McConnell's life miserable 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 FlakeKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Tanden's path to confirmation looks increasingly untenable On The Money: What's next for Neera Tanden's nomination 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 RubioRep. Stephanie Murphy says she's 'seriously considering' 2022 challenge to Rubio The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack 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 BluntPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Microsoft, FireEye push for breach reporting rules after SolarWinds hack Biden's unity effort falters MORE (Mo.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMurkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Trump backs former campaign adviser for Ohio Republican Party chair MORE (Ohio) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteOvernight Defense: NATO expanding troops in Iraq Overnight Defense: New START extended for five years | Austin orders 'stand down' to tackle extremism | Panel recommends Biden delay Afghanistan withdrawal Study group recommends Biden delay Afghanistan withdrawal MORE (N.H.), did not respond to questions. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo 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 CapitoPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Biden's unity effort falters Capito asks White House to allow toxic chemicals rule to proceed 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 GrahamPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Progressive support builds for expanding lower courts McConnell backs Garland for attorney general 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 HatchHow President Biden can hit a home run Mellman: What happened after Ginsburg? Bottom line 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 PaulThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary 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 TillisMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general GOP senators demand probe into Cuomo's handling of nursing home deaths CNN anchor confronts GOP chairman over senator's vote to convict Trump 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 ClintonShelby endorses Shalanda Young for OMB director should Biden pull Tanden's nomination Jennifer Palmieri: 'Ever since I was aware of politics, I wanted to be in politics' Cruz: Wife 'pretty pissed' about leaked Cancun texts 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 EnziLummis adopts 'laser eyes' meme touting Bitcoin Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes With Senate at stake, Georgia is on all our minds 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: Key vote for Haaland's confirmation | Update on oil and gas leasing | SEC update on climate-related risk disclosure requirements Haaland on drilling lease moratorium: 'It's not going to be a permanent thing' Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March 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 BarrassoHaaland courts moderates during tense Senate confirmation hearing Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing MORE (Wyo.)

Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.)

Sen. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy On The Trail: Trump threatens a Tea Party redux Managers seek to make GOP think twice about Trump acquittal MORE (Ark.)

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Overnight Health Care: COVID-19 vaccine makers pledge massive supply increase | Biden health nominee faces first Senate test | White House defends reopening of facility for migrant kids MORE (N.C.)

Sen. Bill Cassidy (La.)

Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHow President Biden can hit a home run Former Trump intel chief Coats introduces Biden nominee Haines at hearing Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security MORE (Ind.)

Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBottom line Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Hyde-Smith fends off challenge from Espy in Mississippi MORE (Miss.)

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Overnight Health Care: Johnson & Johnson vaccine safe, effective in FDA analysis | 3-4 million doses coming next week | White House to send out 25 million masks Biden's picks face peril in 50-50 Senate MORE (Maine)

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerIt's time for Biden's Cuba GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Former GOP senator: Republicans cannot let Trump's 'reckless' post-election claims stand MORE (Tenn.)

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonRomney-Cotton, a Cancun cabbie and the minimum wage debate On The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Biden health nominee faces first Senate test MORE (Ark.)

Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoBecerra says he wants to 'build on' ObamaCare when pressed on Medicare for All Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill MORE (Idaho)

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Shelby endorses Shalanda Young for OMB director should Biden pull Tanden's nomination MORE (Texas)

Sen. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerBiden pick for Pentagon cruises through confirmation hearing Push for ,000 stimulus checks hits Senate buzzsaw Overnight Energy: Biden makes historic pick with Haaland for Interior | Biden set to tap North Carolina official to lead EPA | Gina McCarthy forges new path as White House climate lead 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 GrassleyGrassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Durbin: Garland likely to get confirmation vote next week 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 HoevenBiden reignites immigration fight in Congress McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Senate GOP opposition grows to objecting to Electoral College results MORE (N.D.)

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy MORE (Okla.)

Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler leaves door open to 2022 rematch against Warnock Perdue on potential 2022 run: GOP must regain the Senate Bottom line MORE (Ga.)

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGrassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Top cops deflect blame over Capitol attack NRSC chair Scott calls for party unity: 'The Republican Civil War is now cancelled' MORE (Wis.)

Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkSenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Senate makes SCOTUS nominee Barrett a proxy for divisive 2020 Senate Republicans scramble to put Trump at arm's length MORE (Ill.)

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain planning 'intimate memoir' of life with John McCain Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors Arkansas state senator says he's leaving Republican Party MORE (Ariz.)

Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.)

Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Senate votes to hear witnesses in Trump trial Senate panel advances Biden's education and labor secretary picks MORE (Kan.)

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Health Care: Johnson & Johnson vaccine safe, effective in FDA analysis | 3-4 million doses coming next week | White House to send out 25 million masks Biden's picks face peril in 50-50 Senate Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo MORE (Alaska)

Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio)

Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy Risch11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' Biden to redirect .4M in aid to Myanmar, sanction key military figures Can Palestine matter again? MORE (Idaho)

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes Window quickly closing for big coronavirus deal Trump's controversial Fed nominee stalled after Senate setback MORE (Kan.)

Sen. Mike Rounds (S.D.)

Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.)

Sen. Dan Sullivan (Alaska)

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThunePassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Senate GOP campaign chief talks strategy with Trump Graham, Trump huddle to talk GOP's 2022 strategy MORE (S.D.)

Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' MORE (Miss.)

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