Powerful Republican politicians on Thursday and Friday egged on President Donald Trump’s insane lies that simply counting votes was actually election theft.
With vague statements that left plenty of room for Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud and violations of vote-counting procedures, Republicans contributed to his effort to undermine faith in the election’s results. The statements came after Trump’s children had a public outburst of frustration that more mainstream Republicans weren’t helping their father.
There’s no evidence at all to suggest that there was widespread voter fraud or any kind of effort by elections officials to exclude Republican poll watchers from the counting process in various states. But the top elected Republicans in the House and Senate implied that, actually, Trump could be onto something with his false claims.
Here’s how this must work in our great country: Every legal vote should be counted. Any illegally-submitted ballots must not. All sides must get to observe the process. And the courts are here to apply the laws & resolve disputes.
That's how Americans' votes decide the result.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) November 6, 2020
Joe Biden wants to “count every vote.”
President @realDonaldTrump wants to count every 𝐥𝐞𝐠𝐚𝐥 vote.
There’s a big difference.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) November 5, 2020
In an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham Thursday night, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) pointed to the fact that incumbent House Republicans actually had a good night on Tuesday, holding on to existing seats — which, paradoxically, he said “shows more of the fraud.”
“How would President Trump lose in an atmosphere like that?” he asked rhetorically.
“President Trump won this election,” McCarthy lied later in the interview, before urging supporters to make noise about… something, though he didn’t specify what.
“So everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet,” McCarthy said. “Do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes. We need to unite together. And you don’t need to be a Republican. If you believe [that] every legal vote needs to count, if you believe in the American process, join together and we can stop this.”
Republicans will not be silenced.
We demand transparency. We demand accuracy. And we demand that the legal votes be protected. pic.twitter.com/1RZbzEOSfH
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) November 6, 2020
He was hardly alone.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) acknowledged to Fox News’ Sean Hannity that Republican legislators in Pennsylvania could simply ignore the election results and award the state’s electoral votes to Donald Trump.
“I think everything should be on the table,” Graham said. “Philadelphia elections are as crooked as a snake.”
“Everything should be on the table” — Lindsey Graham won’t rule out that Republican legislatures should invalidate the election results and (presumably) award their electoral votes to Trump pic.twitter.com/ykNdFCicZW
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 6, 2020
Appearing right after Graham on Hannity’s show, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) falsely said “they’re not allowing the election observers in” in Philadelphia.
“The reason you don’t want observers there is because you’re doing something you don’t want to be observed,” he said, adding: “They are setting the stage to potentially steal an election.”
“We need the Department of Justice in there to enforce the law,” Cruz said.
Some Republicans were a bit more explicit. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, for example, suggested that federal agents seize legally cast ballots.
Newt Gingrich comes out in favor of seizing ballots. pic.twitter.com/KeX91LFfpy
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) November 6, 2020
And the new senator-elect in Alabama, former college football coach Tommy Tuberville, seemed to miss entirely what the fake scandal was that he was supposed to be pushing.
Tuberville, rather than focusing on false talking points about fraud or election monitoring, compared the election in which legally cast votes are still being counted to a football game where time has run out.
“The American people deserve transparency and to know the integrity of our votes are preserved,” he said, after saying it was wrong to count ballots.
I’d challenge that as a coach, and @realDonaldTrump is right to challenge that as a candidate.
The American people deserve transparency and to know the integrity of our votes are preserved. #Election2020
— Tommy Tuberville (@TTuberville) November 6, 2020