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 John TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' 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 CornynSanders says Juneteenth should be a national holiday Sanders says Juneteenth should be a national holiday GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers MORE (R-Texas), wants to “wait and see.” 

And only Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAlabama senator: Sessions hasn't ruled out Senate bid Alabama senator: Sessions hasn't ruled out Senate bid The Hill's Morning Report - Trump to kick off bid for second term in Florida 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 AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Chris Murphy may oppose bipartisan health bill unless it addresses ObamaCare 'sabotage' 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 ScottOnly black GOP senator Tim Scott calls reparations a 'non-starter' Only black GOP senator Tim Scott calls reparations a 'non-starter' On The Money: Trump weighs emergency declaration for Mexico tariffs | GOP senators look to rein in Trump on trade | Powell says Fed may cut rates if trade war hurts economy 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 FlakeDemocrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment 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 RubioThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump jumps into 2020 race The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump jumps into 2020 race GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers 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 BluntDemocrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills Democrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills Senate Democrats to try to force additional election security votes MORE (Mo.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats House passes bill to establish DHS cyber 'first responder' teams MORE (Ohio) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteKey endorsements: A who's who in early states Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Sinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race MORE (N.H.), did not respond to questions. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Overnight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Senate to vote Thursday to block Trump's Saudi arms deal 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 CapitoBipartisan senators propose forcing EPA to set drinking water standard for 'forever chemicals' Bipartisan senators propose forcing EPA to set drinking water standard for 'forever chemicals' August recess under threat as yearly spending bills pile up 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 GrahamSecond ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators Meghan McCain clashes with Joy Behar as the 'sacrificial Republican' on 'The View' 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 HatchTrump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators 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 PaulSenate to vote Thursday to block Trump's Saudi arms deal Senate to vote Thursday to block Trump's Saudi arms deal Overnight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran 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 TillisGOP frets about Trump's poll numbers GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 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 ClintonDemocrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony Democrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony Trump: 'So sad' Democrats are putting Hope Hicks 'through hell' 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 EnziBeware of the 'unknown knowns' of budget reform The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa 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 LeeSecond ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators Overnight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran 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 VitterLobbying World Senate confirms Trump judge who faced scrutiny over abortion views Collins votes against Trump judicial pick MORE (La.)

Vitter’s office declined to comment. 

 

DID NOT RESPOND TO QUESTIONS (34)

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.)

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoBipartisan senators propose forcing EPA to set drinking water standard for 'forever chemicals' Bipartisan senators propose forcing EPA to set drinking water standard for 'forever chemicals' Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy: 'You are the pride of our nation' MORE (Wyo.)

Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.)

Sen. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanVA chief pressed on efforts to prevent veteran suicides VA chief pressed on efforts to prevent veteran suicides McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal MORE (Ark.)

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrGOP frets about Trump's poll numbers GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers Democrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills MORE (N.C.)

Sen. Bill Cassidy (La.)

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Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Democrats deal with Mueller fallout MORE (Miss.)

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Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP frets about Trump's poll numbers GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers GOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias MORE (Texas)

Sen. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle The Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle Steve King denied seat on Air Force One for Trump trip to Iowa: report MORE (Neb.)

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerHillicon Valley: Senate sets hearing on Facebook's cryptocurrency plans | FTC reportedly investigating YouTube over children's privacy | GOP senator riles tech with bill targeting liability shield | FAA pushed to approve drone deliveries Hillicon Valley: Senate sets hearing on Facebook's cryptocurrency plans | FTC reportedly investigating YouTube over children's privacy | GOP senator riles tech with bill targeting liability shield | FAA pushed to approve drone deliveries Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats MORE (Colo.)

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Grassley announces opposition to key Trump proposal to lower drug prices MORE (Iowa)

Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (Nev.)

Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenMcConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal Senators introduce bill to prevent border agency from selling personal data MORE (N.D.)

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump's reelection message: Promises kept The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's reelection message: Promises kept Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless MORE (Okla.)

Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonVA chief pressed on efforts to prevent veteran suicides VA chief pressed on efforts to prevent veteran suicides Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission MORE (Ga.)

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonDemocrats make U-turn on calling border a 'manufactured crisis' Democrats make U-turn on calling border a 'manufactured crisis' GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers MORE (Wis.)

Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkEx-GOP Sen. Kirk registers to lobby The global reality behind 'local' problems Dems vow swift action on gun reform next year MORE (Ill.)

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain clashes with Joy Behar as the 'sacrificial Republican' on 'The View' The DNC's climate problems run deep Trump's health care focus puts GOP on edge MORE (Ariz.)

Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.)

Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission MORE (Kan.)

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiInterior spending bill holds Trump administration accountable for 2017 promises Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data MORE (Alaska)

Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio)

Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischTrump's UN pick faces Senate grilling Trump's UN pick faces Senate grilling UN nominee Kelly Craft to face confirmation hearing Wednesday MORE (Idaho)

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsEPA exempts farms from reporting pollution tied to animal waste EPA exempts farms from reporting pollution tied to animal waste Conservatives spark threat of bloody GOP primaries MORE (Kan.)

Sen. Mike Rounds (S.D.)

Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.)

Sen. Dan Sullivan (Alaska)

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHillicon Valley: GOP senator wants one agency to run tech probes | Huawei expects to lose B in sales from US ban | Self-driving car bill faces tough road ahead | Elon Musk tweets that he 'deleted' his Twitter account Hillicon Valley: GOP senator wants one agency to run tech probes | Huawei expects to lose B in sales from US ban | Self-driving car bill faces tough road ahead | Elon Musk tweets that he 'deleted' his Twitter account New push to regulate self-driving cars faces tough road MORE (S.D.)

Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHillicon Valley: Democratic state AGs sue to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger | House kicks off tech antitrust probe | Maine law shakes up privacy debate | Senators ask McConnell to bring net neutrality to a vote Hillicon Valley: Democratic state AGs sue to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger | House kicks off tech antitrust probe | Maine law shakes up privacy debate | Senators ask McConnell to bring net neutrality to a vote Lawmakers demand answers on Border Patrol data breach MORE (Miss.)

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