Tennessee GOP governor says outcome of election ‘not clear yet’

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) said Monday that he would not yet recognize President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of last week’s presidential election, joining several Republicans who have waited to do so amid the Trump campaign’s multistate legal battle baselessly alleging widespread voter fraud. 

“I think that it’s not clear yet what the outcome is and it won’t be clear until the process is seen to the end,” Lee told reporters, according to The Associated Press. “I think the country should proceed with that process.”

The AP noted that Lee declined to directly respond to whether he supports President Trump’s continued claims of rampant voter fraud, which election experts and recent court rulings have disputed. 

“I’ve got to be focused on what’s the very best for Tennessee and that includes working with the federal administration regardless of who that is,” Lee said Monday. 

Two separate groups of international election observers have reported in the past week that they have not found any evidence to back the president’s allegations of systemic wrongdoing in the election. 

A preliminary report released last week from the Organization of American States (OAS) said that based on a review by 28 experts from 13 countries who witnessed the election proceedings in Washington, D.C., Georgia, Iowa, Maryland and Michigan, there were no instances of fraud or voting irregularities in the presidential election, categorizing Election Day as “overall progressing in a peaceful manner.” 

The OAS also concluded that the mail-in ballot system was “secure,” though it did note that there were attempts to intimidate poll workers during the counting process, particularly in Michigan, where Trump supporters called for workers to “stop the count.” 

The organization’s report aligns with findings from international observers from Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which condemned Trump for promoting “baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies” that “harm public trust in democratic institutions.”

Despite these reports, top Republican officials have taken positions similar to Lee in their hesitancy to accept Biden as the president-elect, despite every major news outlet declaring him the winner over the weekend. 

During a Monday address on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not congratulate Biden, adding that “President Trump is 100 percent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.” 

“We have the tools and institutions we need to address any concerns,” McConnell added. “The president has every right to look into allegations and request recounts under the law.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), a close Trump ally, declared on Fox News that “President Trump won this election,” though his office later suggested he was implying Trump had helped Republicans win House seats.

Only four GOP senators — Mitt Romney (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Susan Collins (Maine) — have issued statements congratulating Biden on the win. 

And four Republican governors — Massachusetts’s Charlie Baker, Maryland’s Larry Hogan, Vermont’s Phil Scott and Ohio’s Mike DeWine — have also sent well wishes to the president-elect.

Tags 2020 election 2020 Trump campaign Ben Sasse Bill Lee Donald Trump Fox News Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Lisa Murkowski Mike DeWine Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Organization of American States Senate Susan Collins Tennessee The Associated Press voter fraud claims

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