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‘Profoundly Sad Moment for Our Country’: GOP Senators Line Up Behind Hawley’s Effort to Contest the Election

Several GOP senators plan to join a last-ditch effort ostensibly aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election. That crusade, which perhaps could be described as a pledge of fealty to the MAGA faithful, is currently being led by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).

“Roughly a dozen Republican senators are in talks to join Missouri Senator Josh Hawley in objecting to the electoral college results when congress meets Wednesday, according to multiple Republican sources familiar with the ongoing talks,” CBS News journalists Arden Farhi, Ed O’Keefe and Alan He reported on Saturday morning.

A group of such senators subsequently released a statement Saturday morning confirming their plan to challenge the results. U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Senators-Elect Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) said they following:

Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed.

Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed.

The coalition of senators and senators-elect said they expected “most if not all Democrats” and “perhaps more than a few Republicans[] to vote otherwise.”  They also said their aim was “not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it.”

The statement also does not directly allege that voter fraud occurred; rather, it merely asserts that “deep distrust of our democratic processes” has resulted after “unprecedented allegations of voter fraud” were alleged.  Indeed, the statement says the 2020 election was “narrowly decided.”  That is enough, in the mind of Cruz, et al., to vote against the certified results of the various states:  not evidence of fraud, but a mere fear of fraud.

The statement came on the heels of a similar previous move by Hawley.

“Following both the 2004 and 2016 elections, Democrats in Congress objected during the certification of electoral votes in order to raise concerns about election integrity,” Hawley said in a widely-panned statement released December 30, 2020. “They were praised by Democratic leadership and the media when they did. And they were entitled to do so. But now those of us concerned about the integrity of this election are entitled to do the same.”

The first-term GOP senator’s statement continued:

I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws. And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden. At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections. But Congress has so far failed to act.

For these reasons, I will follow the same practice Democrat members of Congress have in years past and object during the certification process on January 6 to raise these critical issues.

President Donald Trump, who decisively but narrowly lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, favorably retweeted the junior senator’s statement–calling out critics of the move in typically Trumpian verbiage.

“America is proud of Josh and the many others who are joining him,” the 45th and lame duck president said in one such tweet before calling into question the integrity of the November vote. “The USA cannot have fraudulent elections!”

A small handful of Republicans in the U.S. Senate recently went on the record to rubbish Hawley’s plans in Politico, but those voices now appear to represent a substantial numerical minority of the incoming GOP congressional delegation. According to CNN, at least 140 members of the U.S. House of Representatives plan to attach their names to Hawley’s anti-Biden effort. The addition of another dozen or so Republicans in the Senate would bring that number just over 150. The 117th U.S. Congress–which will begin on January 3, 2020–is slated to include somewhere between 259 and 261 GOP members–depending on the results of Georgia’s runoff Senate elections.

Hawley receiving a wellspring of backup in the legislature’s upper chamber was quickly met with scorn and revulsion.

“This is a profoundly silly yet profoundly sad moment for our country,” opined the Brennan Center for Justice’s attorney Michael Li.

Others were more august in their criticism.

“The GOP is a fundamentally broken, increasingly fascist political party and it’s necessary for reporters to express this objective truth,” advised commentator Erick Fernandez–who also noted a recent alleged call to violence expressed by Rep. Louie Gohmert.

[image via Samuel Corum/Getty Images]

Editor’s note:  this report was updated shortly after publication to include additional details from Cruz’s statement.

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