WASHINGTON — The extraordinary Republican effort to overturn the presidential election was condemned Sunday by an outpouring of current and former GOP officials warning the effort to sow doubt in Joe Biden's win and keep President Donald Trump in office is undermining Americans' faith in democracy.

Trump has enlisted support from a dozen Republican senators and up to 100 House Republicans to challenge the Electoral College vote when Congress convenes in a joint session to confirm President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 win.

With Biden set to be inaugurated Jan. 20, Trump is intensifying efforts to prevent the traditional transfer of power, ripping the party apart.

Despite Trump's claims of voter fraud, state officials have insisted the elections ran smoothly and there was no evidence of fraud or other problems that would change the outcome. The states have certified their results as fair and valid. Of the more than 50 lawsuits the president and his allies have filed challenging election results, nearly all have been dismissed or dropped. He's also lost twice at the U.S. Supreme Court.

On a call disclosed Sunday, Trump can be heard pressuring Georgia officials to "find" him more votes.

"The 2020 election is over," said a statement Sunday from a bipartisan group of 10 senators, including Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Mitt Romney of Utah.

The senators wrote that further attempts to cast doubt on the election are "contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people and only serve to undermine Americans' confidence in the already determined election results."

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland said, "The scheme by members of Congress to reject the certification of the presidential election makes a mockery of our system and who we are as Americans."

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, said in a statement that "Biden's victory is entirely legitimate" and that efforts to sow doubt about the election "strike at the foundation of our republic."

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican, warned in a memo to colleagues that objections to the Electoral College results "set an exceptionally dangerous precedent."

Other prominent former officials also criticized the ongoing attack on election results. In a brief op-ed in The Washington Post, the 10 living former defense secretaries -- half of them having served Republican presidents -- called on Pentagon officials to carry out the transition to the new administration "fully, cooperatively and transparently." They also asserted that efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes "would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory."

Citing election results, legal challenges, state certifications and the Electoral College vote, the former defense secretaries said that "the time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived."

The unusual challenge to the presidential election, on a scale unseen since the aftermath of the Civil War, clouded the opening of the new Congress and is set to consume its first days. The House and Senate will meet Wednesday in a joint session to accept the Electoral College vote, a typically routine process that's now expected to be a prolonged fight.

Trump is refusing to concede, and pressure is mounting on Vice President Mike Pence to ensure victory while presiding in what is typically a ceremonial role over the congressional session. Trump is whipping up crowds for a rally in Washington.

The president tweeted Sunday against the election tallies and Republicans not on his side.

Biden's transition spokesman, Mike Gwin, dismissed the senators' effort as a "stunt" that won't change the fact that Biden will be sworn in Jan. 20.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues that while there is "no doubt" of Biden's victory, their job now "is to convince more of the American people to trust in our democratic system."

The effort in the Senate was being led by Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Hawley defended his actions in a lengthy email to colleagues, explaining that his Missouri constituents have been "loud and clear" with their belief that Biden's defeat of Trump was unfair.

"It is my responsibility as a senator to raise their concerns," Hawley wrote late Saturday.

Hawley plans to object to the state tally from Pennsylvania. But that state's Republican senator, Pat Toomey, criticized the attack on Pennsylvania's election system and said the results that named Biden the winner are valid.

Cruz's coalition of 11 Republican senators vows to reject the Electoral College tallies unless Congress launches a commission to immediately conduct an audit of the election results. They are zeroing in on the states where Trump has raised unfounded claims of voter fraud. Congress is unlikely to agree to their demand.

The group formed with Cruz, which presented no new evidence of election problems, includes Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Braun of Indiana. New senators in the group are Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

The convening of the joint session to count the Electoral College votes has faced objections before. In 2017, several House Democrats challenged Trump's win but Biden, who presided at the time as the vice president, swiftly dismissed them to assert Trump's victory. Rarely have the protests approached this level of intensity.

The moment is a defining one for the Republican Party in a post-Trump era. Both Hawley and Cruz are potential 2024 presidential contenders, cementing their alignment with Trump's base of supporters. Others are trying to forge a different path for the GOP.

Pence will be carefully watched as he presides over what is expected to be a prolonged showdown, depending on how many challenges are mounted.

The vice president "welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections," Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, said in a statement Saturday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has warned Republicans off such challenges but said little when asked about it as at the Capitol as the Senate opened Sunday.

"We'll be dealing with all of that on Wednesday," he said.

But Republicans simply said they do not plan to join the effort that will fail.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday his colleagues will have an opportunity to make their case, but they must produce evidence and facts. "They have a high bar to clear," he said.

Congress have been loathe to interfere in the state-run election systems, a longstanding protocol. States choose their own election officials and draft their election laws. During the coronavirus pandemic many states adapted by allowing mail voting to ease health risks of voting in person. Those changes and others are now being challenged by Trump and his allies.

Trump, the first president to lose a reelection bid in almost 30 years, has attributed his defeat to widespread voter fraud, despite the consensus of nonpartisan election officials and even Trump's attorney general that there was none.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the latest challenge from Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and a group of Arizona electors, who filed suit to try to force Pence to step outside mere ceremony and shape the outcome of the vote. The appellate court sided with the federal judge, a Trump appointee, who dismissed the suit.

(16) comments

Ril

I did not vote for good buddy roger. I'm sure his opponent would have taken the job very seriously. All our Kansas Trumplicans should look very carefully, and decide if their party is who they want to be associated with. It appears that in no way does it represent what it used to stand for. Folks, think carefully about it.

Wyatt's Ghost

So Senator Roger Marshall’s very first official duty for Kansas was to enable the same lies and delusional fantasies being peddled by the right wing echo chambers to win favor from the very same domestic terrorists that stained the USA with their criminal behavior, domestic terrorism, and sedition. Every single one of you voters that just elected Senator Roger Marshall knowingly and willfully support the terrorism that Senator Roger Marshall enabled in their vote for him.

And Senator Jerry Moran voted to allow the criminal conduct of a mentally unstable fraudulent grifter to continue escalating after being warned that a failed President would repeat his criminal behavior last year. Anyone alive in the 1980s knew that Donald Trump has always been a very cheap wannabe Gordon Gekko at best or a glorified sleazy used car salesman at worst. So all of you Senator Jerry Moran voters directly and/or indirectly supported the criminal activity of criminal trash, domestic terrorism, and sedition that Donald Trump incited at his rage rally to spew lies and right wing conspiracy nonsense. When are all of you Republican voters from local, state, and national offices going to demand that those you empowered stop trying to destroy the United States of America by continuing to enable the criminal behavior, domestic terrorism, and sedition?

Rationa1

Both of these gentlemen are poor representatives for our state. Neither is intellectually honest. Neither has the moral standing to represent U.S. citizens. Each of them should resign. If they decline to do so, the Republican Party should run primary opponents against them. If the current Senators somehow win their primaries, Kansas voters should elect their general election opponents.

Aim_High

Trumps supporters are out in DC today playing dress up ISIS as they try to cope with the devastating losses dealt to them by the majority American public. Should be a good show!

Aim_High

We just wanted $2,000 to help pay the bills. Mitch was like Ill throw in the senate too.

Art of the deal

ruserius

The Left impeached a President for trying to expose a crime and then replaced him with the person who committed the crime. "Quid Po Quo Joe"

Aim_High

The left will probably impeach Trump again, and the Senate won't be there to protect him this time.

Hollowed Ground

You can be sure the Georgia officials are not the only ones the skunk has called and pressured. It has no doubt called other state officials with similar demands to fabricate, uh, find, votes. And you can be sure it has also called friendly Generals to lay the groundwork for an armed takeover. Expect troops and/or tanks to be ordered to halt the inauguration. If they obey, and Michael Flynn has many friends in the Pentagon, they will be assisted by hordes of Proud Boys and self-proclaimed "patriots". After all, the election was rife with fraud, and the only way to preserve democracy and our liberties is to stop the illegal inauguration by force and re-establish Trump as the true legitimate God-appointed leader. USA! USA! Stop the Steal! Stop the Steal!

Ril

I have always felt that trumps lackey, Roger Marshall is as synthetic as Teflon, but here in Kansas folks think he is the best stink on the pile.

Rationa1

Senator Marshall is amoral and his presence in the U.S. Senate is an existential threat to democracy. He must be voted out at the nearest opportunity.

Hollowed Ground

That would be 2026. Enjoy!

Rationa1

Thanks, Hollow. I know how to count.

Primary him, please. I'll give you $20.

An Expatriate Emporian

It's fascinating to try to sort out which of these people still beating the drum for Donald are just doing it to appeal to the voter base, to not have him tweet negatively about them, or are actual members of the cult of Trump.

Hollowed Ground

They are all cut from the same cult: Pathological butt kissers, to put it politely.

Aim_High

It's sad when you have to read the article to find out which scheme is being discussed! SAD!!

Hsapiens42

Yesterday tried to contact Roger Marshall's office and the site is down. As it is today. I wanted to tell him what a lease bag he is for supporting our mobster president who wants to overturn the election with his undocumented falsehoods. I wanted to tell him that he is committing political suicide for not supporting the outcome of the election. He has no moral compass. I conclude he does not want to hear that he is another loser just like the orange mobster.

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