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Ex-GOP senator blasts Hawley's challenge to electoral vote count as 'highly destructive attack'

Ex-GOP senator blasts Hawley's challenge to electoral vote count as 'highly destructive attack'
© Greg Nash

Former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.) on Monday criticized his fellow Missouri Republican, Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTo 'lower the temperature' raise commitments to federalism Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial Beto O'Rourke: Ted Cruz 'guilty of sedition' in Capitol insurrection MORE, for his stated intention to object Wednesday to the certification of President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBudowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit DC might win US House vote if it tries Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models MORE’s Electoral College victory.

“Lending credence to [President] Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen is a highly destructive attack on our constitutional government,” Danforth wrote. “It is the opposite of conservative; it is radical. As one friend asked me, ‘What are my grandchildren to think of America if they are told that elections are fraudulent?’”

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Danforth, who served in the Senate from 1976 to 1995, was an early backer of Hawley’s run for Senate in 2018, encouraging the then-Missouri attorney general to enter the primary contest to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillFor Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief Lobbying world Former McCaskill aides launch PAC seeking to thwart Hawley MORE (D).

“At a time of extreme polarization, the populist strategy is to drive Americans even farther apart by promoting conspiracy theories and stoking grievances,” Danforth wrote. “We must reject this strategy and reclaim America’s historic purpose of holding our diverse nation together as one people.”

In December, Hawley became the first senator to announce he would object to the results of the election when Congress votes to certify it Wednesday. Shortly after, 11 more GOP senators, led by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate to vote Tuesday on Biden's secretary of State pick To 'lower the temperature' raise commitments to federalism Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial MORE (R-Texas), announced they would do the same. Cruz and Hawley are both considered likely contenders for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. At least 100 House Republicans are also expected to object.

Both Hawley and the additional 11 senators cited unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in swing states to justify their objections. Numerous officials, including then-Attorney General William BarrBill BarrPoll finds 1 in 3 believe false claims voter fraud led to Biden win Trump pressed DOJ to go to Supreme Court in bid to overturn election: report Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated MORE, have said there is no evidence to justify the claims.

The effort is almost certainly doomed to failure, as both chambers of Congress must vote to prevent Biden from assuming the presidency. Enough GOP senators have said they will not support the effort that it is unlikely to secure a majority in the chamber, including Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonGOP senator: Impeachment a 'moot point' after Trump's exit Sunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (R-Ark.), a Trump ally and additional likely 2024 candidate.