The 140 Republican Congress members and 12 senators who intend to object on Wednesday to the certification of the Electoral College vote in six states have been accused by Democrats and establishment media of “undermining democracy” and engaging in a “bloodless coup.”
However, Democrats have objected to the last three Republican presidential victories during the constitutionally mandated Jan. 6 joint session of Congress. And after the 2004 election, objections in both the House and the Senate resulted in the required two-hour debate over the certification of the vote in Ohio in favor of George W. Bush.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who was the first senator to signal his objection, brought up the recent history in an interview with Fox News.
“First of all, I don’t hear the Democrats making such outrageous claims when they were the ones who were objecting during the electoral college certification in 2004 and 2016. Democrats have done this for years to raise concerns about election integrity,” Hawley said Sunday.
“Now when Republicans and 74 million Americans have concerns about election integrity, we are supposed to sit down and shut up? Somebody has to stand up here,” he said.
Hawley was referring to polls showing most Republicans and a substantial number of Americans overall are not confident that Joe Biden won the election. A Rasmussen poll found 75% of Republicans, 39% of independents, 30% of Democrats and 47% of Americans overall thought it was likely that “Democrats stole votes or destroyed pro-Trump ballots in several states to ensure that Biden would win.”
After the 2004 election, objections by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs, D-Ohio, were praised at the time by the House minority leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California.
“Today we are witnessing democracy at work. This isn’t as some of our Republican colleagues have referred to it, sadly, as frivolous. This debate is fundamental to our democracy,” said Pelosi, the current House speaker.
“The representatives of the American people in this house are standing up for three fundamental American beliefs: The right to vote is sacred; that a representative has a duty to represent his or her constituents; and that the rule of law is the hallmark of our nation.”
No senator objected when House Democrats objected in 2001 to the certification of the vote in Florida and in 2017 to Donald Trump’s victory.
On Wednesday, Democrats ultimately can shut down the Republican effort to challenge the Electoral College vote because they hold a slim majority in the House. Both chambers must approve any objection. However, Republicans who believe there are enough illegal votes to flip the election outcome argue they will have the opportunity to present the evidence collected over the past two months directly to the representatives of the people and to a national audience.
A longtime Democrat, George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley, does not support the Republican challenge but insisted it is being done according to federal law.
“It’s not a coup of any kind. It is the very same law used in the same way as Democrats in past elections,” Turley said Monday in an interview with Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”
A Washington Post column by Ruth Marcus on Sunday bore the headline “An alarmingly large cadre of co-conspirators is helping Trump’s assault on democracy.”
Monday afternoon at a rally in Georgia for the Senate runoff elections Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said Republicans will “have our day in Congress.”
“I know we all got our doubts about the last election. … I promise you, come this Wednesday, we’ll have our day in Congress. We’ll hear the objections,” said Pence, who serves as the president of the Senate.
During the joint session Wednesday, he will read the electoral votes for all 50 states. Legal scholars are split regarding his authority, with some insisting he can reject slates of electors and others contending he only can count the votes.
Kevin McCarthy: ‘It’s right that we have the debate’
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy declared Sunday in an interview with The Hill that he supports his colleagues who have joined Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama in objecting.
“I think it’s right that we have the debate,” McCarthy said. “I mean, you see now that senators are going to object, the House is going to object — how else do we have a way to change the election problems?”
Six Republican senators and five Republican senators-elect announced Saturday they were joining Hawley: Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Mike Braun of Indiana, and Sens.-elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
The lawmakers said the 2020 presidential election featured “unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities.”
On Saturday, President Trump, along with top lawyers and other investigators, held a Zoom conference call with some 300 state legislators from the contested states of Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia, urging them to examine the evidence and consider decertifying the results.
One notable Trump supporter in the Senate, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in a statement Sunday he believes there are legitimate concerns about election irregularities but will not vote to decertify.
Instead, he said, he supports “a commission to study the last election and propose reforms to protect the integrity of our elections.”
“And after Republicans win in Georgia, the Senate should also hold more hearings on these matters,” he said, regarding the two runoff races Tuesday that will decide the majority. “All Americans deserve to have confidence in the elections that undergird our free government.”
Regarding the presidential election, Cotton argued “the Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states — not Congress.”
“They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College — not Congress,” he said. “And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courts — not Congress. Under the Constitution and federal law, Congress’s power is limited to counting electoral votes submitted by the states.”
Trump reacted on Monday to Cotton via Twitter, warning Republican voters would “never forget.”
“How can you certify an election when the numbers being certified are verifiably WRONG,” Trump wrote. “You will see the real numbers tonight during my speech, but especially on JANUARY 6th. @SenTomCotton Republicans have pluses & minuses, but one thing is sure, THEY NEVER FORGET!”
Trump will travel to Georgia on Monday to campaign for the Republicans in the two runoff races that will determine control of the Senate.
The third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, said in a memo to colleagues that the objections “set an exceptionally dangerous precedent.”
Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who has been a critic of Trump over the past four years, said last week the president “and his allies are playing with fire,” referring to those who object as “constitutional arsonists.”
“They have been asking – first the courts, then state legislatures, now the Congress – to overturn the results of a presidential election,” he said.
“If you make big claims, you had better have the evidence. But the president doesn’t and neither do the institutional arsonist members of Congress who will object to the Electoral College vote,” Sasse said.
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