Tensions heat up among Republicans over Trump's push to undo the election

Tensions heat up among Republicans over Trump's push to undo the election

Tensions are escalating among Republicans in Congress over the January 6 certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory over President Donald Trump in the Electoral College. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been urging Republicans not to contest Biden's certification, but Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri announced, this week, that he will defy McConnell's request — and CNN's Jake Tapper is reporting that "at least 140" House Republicans plan to "vote against the Electoral College results showing President-elect Biden won."

The Republicans who agree with McConnell and have publicly acknowledged Biden as president-elect include, among others, Nebraska's Ben Sasse, Utah's Mitt Romney, Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey and South Dakota's John Thune in the Senate to Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger in the House. And Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama has been feuding with Kinzinger and is quite vocal about his plans to contest the Electoral College results.

Politico's Alex Isenstadt reports that during a conference call with Senate Republicans on Dec. 31, McConnell demanded an explanation from Hawley:

Later, in an e-mail to Senate Republicans, Hawley noted that he was unable to join the conference call and reiterated his plan to contest the Electoral College results next week on January 6. Isenstadt tweeted a copy of that e-mail:

In a lengthy Facebook post, Sasse vehemently criticized Senate and House Republicans who are planning to contest the Electoral College results — warning that they are "playing with fire." And Sasse has even questioned their sincerity and accused them of acting not out of conviction, but out of fear of Trump's rabid MAGA base.

Trump and his legal team have been making the debunked and baseless claim that the president was the victim of widespread voter fraud, and according to Sasse, many House and Senate Republicans don't actually believe it. But they lack the courage to publicly say what they really think.

Sasse explained, "When we talk in private, I haven't heard a single congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent — not one. Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will look to President Trump's most ardent supporters."

Another reason for House and Senate Republicans to voice their objections to Biden's Electoral College certification — even if they know he won the election — is financial. Axios' Jonathan Swan notes that Hawley has been "fundraising off of his planned objection to the election results."

Swan reports that during the New Year's Eve Day conference call with GOP senators, McConnell described his January 6 vote as a "vote of conscience." According to Swan, an Axios source paraphrased McConnell as telling his fellow Republicans, "I'm finishing 36 years in the Senate, and I've cast a lot of big votes…. And in my view, just my view, this is will be the most consequential I have ever cast."

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