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Romney on Trump election tactics: 'Difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action' by president

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBiden teams to meet with Trump administration agencies Paul Ryan calls for Trump to accept results: 'The election is over' Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism MORE (R-Utah) on Thursday directly criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE for efforts by the president and his allies to reverse the results of the presidential election.

Romney, in a statement that marks the strongest pushback so far by a Senate Republican, said the president has "failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy" in myriad challenges Trump's legal team has launched in several battleground states where he trails President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation US records 2,300 COVID-19 deaths as pandemic rises with holidays MORE.

"The President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election. It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president," Romney said in a statement posted to Twitter.

Romney's statement comes after Trump invited some of Michigan's top Republicans to the White House in a sign he may be seeking a way around the results of the election, in which Biden is projected to get 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232. 

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The president also reached out to officials in Wayne County who had sought to block the certification of votes there. Meanwhile, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiEx-Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell files lawsuits in Michigan, Georgia Trump set for precedent-breaking lame-duck period As Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on MORE and the team of lawyers overseeing the campaign's legal challenges used a press conference on Thursday to levy claims of fraud as part of an effort to sway the vote certification process and pressure state lawmakers to send pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College.

Romney is one of only a handful of GOP senators who have acknowledged Biden's White House victory, and his statement on Thursday night makes a rare instance of a Republican member of Congress directly calling out Trump. 

Two other GOP senators — Sens. Ben SasseBen SasseTrump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right Whoopi Goldberg blasts Republicans not speaking against Trump: 'This is an attempted coup' MORE (R-Neb.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstThe Memo: Trump plows ahead with efforts to overturn election More conservatives break with Trump over election claims Peggy Noonan: 'Bogus dispute' by Trump 'doing real damage' MORE (R-Iowa) — have pushed back against comments made during Giuliani's press conference on Thursday. 

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Sasse, a potential 2024 candidate, warned that the "wild press conferences erode public trust," adding that "we are a nation of laws, not tweets." 

Ernst, meanwhile, rebuked claims made by Sidney Powell, a lawyer associated with the Trump campaign, who said that down-ballot candidates could have "paid to have the system rigged to work for them," with the GOP senator calling the statement "offensive" and "absolutely outrageous."  

Though most Senate Republicans haven't echoed Trump's claims that the presidential election was "rigged," they've also given him broad leeway on his legal challenges and declined to publicly discuss Biden or acknowledge his election victory. 

And even as Romney directly called out Trump and Sasse ripped Giuliani, top Republicans in the caucus, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAs Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on Harris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (R-Ky.), have not weighed in. 

McConnell, during a press conference this week, batted down a question about if the General Services Administration should certify Biden as the winner, something it's so far refused to do. 

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“There's a way to deal with disputes, it's called the courts, and the courts in the various states are dealing with whatever disputes there are, whatever evidence may be provided, and we are going to have an orderly transfer from this administration to the next one. What we all say about it is frankly irrelevant,” McConnell said this week. 

Trump's efforts are unlikely to change the outcome of the election, but they have led to serious concerns about damage to the nation's democratic system.

Romney, the party's 2012 presidential nominee, has been more willing to be critical of Trump and was the only GOP senator to vote for one of the articles of impeachment earlier this year. 

In an episode of "The Axe Files" podcast released earlier Thursday, Romney warned that Trump's actions in the lame-duck period could be even more damaging than the president's refusal to let Biden begin the formal transition process.

"The consequences of what's happening during this lame-duck period, I think, are potentially more severe than the consequences associated with a late transition process," Romney said. 

Updated at 11:28 p.m.