Here’s what Graham thinks of plans to challenge Electoral College vote

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 7:25 AM EST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Lindsey Graham says it’s ineffective for several of his Republican colleagues to challenge the results of the presidential election in several states and form a commission to investigate the votes that were cast.

“Proposing a commission at this late date – which has zero chance of becoming reality – is not effectively fighting for President Trump. It appears to be more of a political dodge than an effective remedy,” the South Carolina Republican wrote in a Sunday statement. “They have a high bar to clear,” Graham added after promising to hear his colleagues make their case.

However, Graham did not go as far as some of his GOP colleagues like Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Mitt Romney of Utah to criticize some of their fellow Republicans’ efforts.

In a statement on the certification of the election, Toomey wrote, “allegations of fraud by a losing campaign cannot justify overturning an election.”

Graham wrote that he is looking forward to hearing his colleagues’ objections to the election results, but said they will have a big task ahead of them to effectively make their case.

“They will need to provide proof of the charges they are making. They will also need to provide clear and convincing evidence that the failure to act – in both the state and federal courts and the states legislatures which investigated these claims – was made in error,” Graham wrote. “They will also need to show that the failure to take corrective action in addressing election fraud changed the outcome of these states’ votes and ultimately the outcome of the election.

Multiple courts have thrown out challenges to the election, but Wednesday’s vote is a bit different.

For every state objected, the House and Senate must debate separately for two hours, then vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging Republicans not to try to overturn the election, but not everyone is heeding him. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri vows to join House Republicans in objecting to the state tallies. On the other side of the party’s split, GOP Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska warns such challenges are a “dangerous ploy” threatening the nation’s civic norms.

The days ahead are expected to do little to change the outcome. Biden is set to be inaugurated Jan. 20 after winning the Electoral College vote 306-232. But the effort to subvert the will of voters is forcing Republicans to make choices that will set the contours of the post-Trump era and an evolving GOP.

“I will not be participating in a project to overturn the election,” Sasse wrote in a lengthy social media post.

Sasse, a potential 2024 presidential contender, said he was “urging my colleagues also to reject this dangerous ploy.”

Trump, the first president to lose a re-election bid in almost 30 years, has attributed his defeat to widespread voter fraud, despite the consensus of nonpartisan election officials that there wasn’t any. Of the roughly 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.

Still, the president has pushed Republican senators to pursue his unproved charges even though the Electoral College has already cemented Biden’s victory and all that’s left is Congress’ formal recognition of the count before the new president is sworn in.

“We are letting people vote their conscience,” Sen. John Thune, the second-ranking Republican, told reporters at the Capitol.

Thune’s remarks as the GOP whip in charge of rounding up votes show that Republican leadership is not putting its muscle behind Trump’s demands, but allowing senators to choose their course. He noted the gravity of questioning the election outcome.

“This is an issue that’s incredibly consequential, incredibly rare historically and very precedent-setting,” he said. “This is a big vote. They are thinking about it.”

From reports by WIS and The Associated Press