WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated Democrat Joe Biden Tuesday, named him president-elect and said the electoral college “has spoken.”
The Republican leader’s statement in a speech on the Senate floor ends weeks of silence over President Donald Trump’s defeat. It comes after voters gathered on Monday and confirmed Biden’s election victory.
“Many of us had hoped that the presidential election would produce a different outcome,” McConnell said. “But our government system has the processes to determine who will be sworn in on January 20th. The Electoral College has spoken.”
McConnell began his remarks with praise for Trump’s four years in office, saying Trump and Vice President Mike Pence “deserve our thanks.”
The Senate leader cited, among other things, Trump’s nomination and subsequent Senate confirmation of three Supreme Court justices.
THIS IS AN GREAT NEWS UPDATE. Below is AP’s earlier story.
For the first time, a tidal wave of prominent Republicans said on Monday that Democrat Joe Biden is the winner of the presidential election, essentially putting behind President Donald Trump’s attack on the outcome after the Electoral College declared the mood.
With states confirming the results, Republicans faced a critical choice – to declare Biden president-elect, as the count showed, or stand still while Trump wages a potentially damaging campaign to reverse the election. ..
Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Was silent on the matter Monday. But a number of senators said the time had come.
“At some point you have to face the music,” said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the GOP’s second rank. “Once the Electoral College has resolved the issue today, it is time for everyone to move on.”
Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, the chair of the inaugural committee, said the panel will now “treat Vice President Biden as the president-elect.”
Just last week, Republicans in the Inauguration Committee had refused to do so publicly. He said Monday’s Electoral College vote was “significant.”
Texas GOP Senator John Cornyn said that barring further legal challenges, it appears that Biden will be president.
That is the nature of these elections. You must have a winner. You must have a loser, ”Cornyn said, adding that once Trump’s legal arguments are exhausted,“ Joe Biden is on his way to running for president of the United States. ‘
The turnaround comes almost six weeks after election day. Many Republicans have crossed time in silence, allowing Trump to take an unprecedented challenge to the nation’s treasured voting system.
Some GOP lawmakers have vowed to continue the fight until Jan. 6, when Congress votes to accept or reject the electoral college results. Others have said Trump’s legal battle against January 20 inauguration day should continue toward a solution.
“It’s a very, very narrow path for the president,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., a top Trump ally. “But having said that, I think we’ll let those legal challenges play out.”
Historians and election officials have warned that Trump’s baseless claims about voter fraud threaten to undermine Americans’ confidence in the electoral system, and that under the oath of office lawmakers have a responsibility to defend the constitution.
“The campaign to reverse the outcome is dangerous,” said Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public policy at Princeton.
“This is a republican operation, not a presidential operation,” said Zelizer. “Without their silence, he couldn’t do what he’s doing.”
Trump is trying to throw out the ballots of thousands of Americans, especially those who voted by mail, in dozens of lawsuits that have largely failed. His legal team is claiming irregularities, although Attorney General William Barr, who resigned abruptly on Monday, has said there is no evidence of widespread fraud. that would change the election results. State election officials, including Republicans, have said the election was fair and valid.
In a decisive blow to Trump’s legal efforts, the Supreme Court declined to take it last week two of them that challenge the electoral process in major states.
Former Senate GOP leader Trent Lott said on Monday that there is little reason for Trump to continue the fight.
“I don’t see many opportunities for the president to follow,” Lott said in an interview. “Once the Electoral College has voted, most people will recognize Joe Biden as the president-elect.”
Former House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, has also said it is clear that Biden is the winner, declaring in a forum last month, “The election is over, on everyone’s mind except Donald Trump.”
Before Monday, only a handful of current Republican elected officials in Congress had recognized Biden as president-elect. Even fewer people have reached out to congratulate him.
Among the GOP senators, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski have been most outspoken in declaring Biden the winner.
Others said they were waiting for the electoral college vote, which is normally a routine step in the electoral process, but reinforced by Trump’s refusal to give in.
“Although I supported President Trump, the Electoral College vote today makes it clear that Joe Biden is now president-elect,” Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement.
“The presidential election is over,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
Still, many Republicans in Congress support Trump’s legal battle. About 120 House Republicans joined the botched Texas lawsuit last week, asking the Supreme Court to consider the case to throw away election results in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia.
GOP Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who volunteered to take the case to the Supreme Court, held a town hall telephone Monday urging to “participate in the fight to defend the integrity” of the election.
A House Republican, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama has vowed to challenge the Electoral College results on Jan.6, when Congress convenes a joint session to receive the result.
At that point, any challenge in Congress would have to be led by at least one member of the House and Senate. It is unclear whether a GOP senator will step in to advocate the case. It seems highly unlikely that there will be enough congressional support to reverse the election.
Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday that it’s like Biden has to win “over and over” before Republicans will accept it.
Many Republicans are unwilling to declare Biden the winner for the same reasons they did not avoid against Trump during his presidency.
The president remains popular at home and they are reluctant to cross him or risk public retaliation from him on Twitter and beyond. As Trump prepares to leave office, his supporters are voters that lawmakers need for their own reelection.
Representative Alex Mooney, RW.Va., filed a resolution in Congress last week suggesting that no one be declared president-elect until all investigations are completed. He proposed it after voters confronted him last month and demanded he do more to support Trump.
Overriding their calculations are the Georgia elections on January 5 that will determine control of the Senate. Incumbent GOP Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler need Trump’s support to defend their seats against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rafael Warnock.