GOP senator: Trump election fraud claims 'just not substantiated'

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.), an influential voice within the Senate GOP conference, on Friday said President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE’s claims of widespread election fraud, including in the senator’s home state, “are just not substantiated.”

“I saw the president’s speech last and it was very hard to watch. The president’s allegations of large-scale fraud and theft of the election are just not substantiated,” Toomey, who has announced he will retire from Congress at the end of 2022, told NBC’s “Today.”

“I’m not aware of any significant wrongdoing here. Look, there are irregularities in every election. They tend to typically be very small and involve just a handful of ballots,” he added.

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“There have been some problems in Philadelphia, for instance. As you may know, the election commission has chosen to keep observers too far away from the counting to actually observe the counting,” he said. “And my understanding is they persisted in that unreasonable policy even after a court order requiring that they allow observers to approach the counting,” he said.

Toomey said he wished this “sort of thing” wouldn’t happen.

“But is there any evidence that I’m aware of that there is significant large-scale fraud or malfeasance anywhere in Pennsylvania? Absolutely not,” he said.

Asked if he thought other Republican senators would push back on Trump’s claim of Democrats trying to steal the election, Toomey said: “My colleagues will make their own decisions.”

Toomey announced last month he will not seek reelection in 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push On The Money — GOP blocks spending bill to kick off chaotic week in congress Overnight Health Care — Presented by Alrtia — Booster shots get bipartisan rollout MORE (R-Ky.) on Friday morning tweeted a measured statement calling for “every legal vote” to be counted and urging “illegally-submitted ballots” to be rejected but stopping well short of Trump’s claims of widespread fraud.

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Trump on Thursday accused Pennsylvania election officials of accepting ballots after Election Day without postmarks, claiming they are part of “a corrupt Democrat machine."

“In Pennsylvania, partisan Democrats have allowed ballots in the state to be received three days after the election and we think much more than that,” he said. “And they’re counting those without even postmarks or any identification whatsoever.”

Trump claimed that in Michigan, poll workers are “duplicating ballots” and blocking Republican observers trying to oversee the process.

Toomey on Friday said he has some complaints about the process, namely a decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to extend the period of time that ballots can arrive past the deadline.

“That’s outrageous, frankly,” he said.

But Toomey said the delay in counting the Pennsylvania vote is explained by restrictions on election officials who couldn’t begin counting mail-in ballots until Election Day.

“We had a massive quantity of mail-in ballots, many multiples — maybe an order of magnitude more than we’ve ever had before and election officials did a tremendous amount of work to be prepared to process this but they weren’t allowed to start until Election Day and the process is somewhat labor intensive,” he said.

Toomey said he isn’t sure when Pennsylvania officials will complete process of counting ballots.

He added, “I think the president still has a very narrow path by which he can win.”

“It’s still possible that he can win Pennsylvania because we don’t know the areas of the various counties from which these votes come,” he said, noting that in Allegheny County, the state’s second-largest county, there are some areas where Republicans do well although GOP candidates don’t usually win the entire county.

But he noted that mail-in ballots that are being counted late in the process tend to be for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push Protesters demonstrate outside Manchin's houseboat over opposition to reconciliation package Alabama eyes using pandemic relief funds on prison system MORE.

“If these are mostly mail-in ballots that are being counted last, then we know it’s likely that they are disproportionately Democratic because Democrats voted early and Republicans tended to vote on Election Day,” he said. “At this point, we just don’t know. That’s why we go through the process, to find out.”