GOP senator criticizes 'ambitious politicians' for 'dangerous' Electoral College ploy

Sen. Ben SasseBen SassePresident of newly recognized union for adult performers boosts membership Romney blasts Biden over those left in Afghanistan: 'Bring them home' Progressives breathe sigh of relief after Afghan withdrawal MORE (R-Neb.) on Thursday ripped an effort by fellow Republicans to challenge the election results in Congress next week, calling it a "dangerous ploy."

"Let’s be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage," Sasse wrote in an open letter to constituents.

"But they’re wrong — and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government," he added.

Sasse's comments, which were posted to Facebook, came a day after fellow GOP Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE (Mo.), viewed as a potential 2024 presidential contender, announced he would join House Republicans to challenge the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, ensuring Congress will have to debate and vote on challenges to the results that showed President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE defeated President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE.

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"All the clever arguments and rhetorical gymnastics in the world won’t change the fact that this January 6th effort is designed to disenfranchise millions of Americans simply because they voted for someone in a different party," Sasse wrote.

The Nebraska Republican did not mention Hawley or any other GOP senator by name. But he noted that he's had conversations with colleagues for weeks about the effort by congressional Republicans to try to overturn the election results.

Sasse said Thursday he had been urging his colleagues to "reject this dangerous ploy" and that there was no basis for Congress to use next week's joint session to reject the Electoral College votes.

"We have good reason to think this year’s election was fair, secure, and law-abiding. That’s not to say it was flawless. But there is no evidentiary basis for distrusting our elections altogether, or for concluding that the results do not reflect the ballots that our fellow citizens actually cast," Sasse wrote in the letter.

Next week's challenge to Electoral College votes will be the third time Congress has had to debate an objection since 1887, according to the Congressional Research Service. The other two times, in 1969 and 2005, were ultimately unsuccessful in changing the results of the election and the objections by lawmakers were rejected.

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Successfully objecting to the election results requires a majority vote in both chambers, meaning the the current effort is also guaranteed to fail. But it could put vulnerable GOP incumbents up for reelection in 2022 and 2024 White House hopefuls in a political pressure cooker by forcing them to choose between Trump or potentially providing future primary fodder.

Trump and some of his closest allies have spent the weeks since the Nov. 3 election making unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud and that the election was "rigged" — arguments that have been set aside or dismissed in dozens of court challenges and rejected by election experts.

Sasse, in his letter, argued that Trump and his allies were engaging in "a fundraising strategy" instead of putting forth a legal argument.

"That’s not serious governing," Sasse added. "It’s swampy politics — and it shows very little respect for the sincere people in my state who are writing these checks."