At least a dozen Republican senators apparently are willing to send the U.S. Constitution up in flames as they try to inherit the backing of Donald Trump's base by staging a hopeless challenge to the election of President-elect Joe Biden.
It all will come to a head Wednesday, January 6, when Congress meets in joint session to officially count the electoral college vote, state-by-state. What usually is a routine ceremony is being turned into a circus by GOP politicians whose only motive is to appeal to Trump's loyalists. No matter the long-term harm to our democracy.
Previously, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said he would contest the electoral college vote certification, providing House Republicans who originally launched this charade the standing they needed to force a vote on challenges to individual states' electors. Hawley, an unannounced 2024 presidential candidate, is already fundraising against this initiative.
But today 11 GOP senators said they would object to electors from certain states won by Biden, contending that unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud have caused so much uncertainty and distrust among the electorate that there needs to be an emergency 10-day investigation into the election results.
Of course, it is President Trump and many of those Republican elected officials who have caused this uncertainty and distrust that they say needs to be given a voice. Trump set the fire and they are fanning the flames and then saying an electoral commission should be brought in to put them out.
“To wit, 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,” the senators wrote in a joint statement. “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.”
Who are these GOP Senate arsonists?
Here is the list of shame:
Ted Cruz of Texas
Ron Johnson of Wyoming
James Lankford of Oklahoma
Steve Daines of Montana
John Kennedy of Louisiana
Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee
Mike Braun of Indiana
Senator-Elect Cynthia M. Lummis of Wyoming
Senator-Elect Roger Marshall of Kansas
Senator-Elect Bill Hagerty of Tennessee
Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville of Alabama
If such a panel is not established, the group threatened "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 senators cited a poll showing that about 40 percent of Americans believe the election was rigged. Of course they do. They believe whatever Trump says, and that has been Trump's constant contention ever since the election. It doesn't matter that even as his lawyers' court challenges have been universally rejected and that Trump's own head of cybersecurity and infrastructure security, and former attorney general William P. Barr, have both said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Trump fired both Barr and the cybersecurity chief, Christopher Krebs.
With the House controlled by Democrats and numerous moderate Republican senators saying they will not support the challenges, this gambit will not succeed and Biden will still be sworn in on Jan. 20. But the action by Republicans in both chambers will prolong the debate over certification until the final votes are taken in Congress. It will also prolong the sense of distrust now felt by so many of Trump's supporters and, thus, worsen the divisions in our country.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) called Hawley's plan 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 said 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.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., one of four lawmakers who will participate in the tallying of electoral votes as the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, called the Republicans' move a "publicity stunt."
"It is undemocratic. It is un-American. And fortunately it will be unsuccessful. In the end, democracy will prevail."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Senate Republicans that a vote on objections would be "the most consequential vote" of his career. He has been cautioning Republican senators to not join the objections, but Hawley, Cruz, and other presidential aspirants could care less about what McConnell wants.
They see an opportunity to strengthen their own political ambitions.
What else should matter?