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On Thursday, as the Electoral College continued to seem like it was slipping from Donald Trump’s grasp, the president took to Twitter and to the White House press room to demand that vote counts be halted and to make false and imprecise claims of voter fraud.
This is in keeping with his general campaign strategy of undermining the integrity of the American election, which began immediately after Election Day when he falsely and prematurely declared himself the winner in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
It’s one thing for a presidential candidate to announce that the election was stolen by fraud if he is not allowed to remain in office, though. It is quite another to undercut election results so successfully that it allows the loser to retain power. In order to do that, Trump would need the support of institutional actors. But it appeared on Thursday that his inner circle was starting to realize they were not getting that support.
On Thursday afternoon, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted, “The total lack of action from virtually all of the ‘2024 GOP hopefuls’ is pretty amazing. They have a perfect platform to show that they’re willing & able to fight but they will cower to the media mob instead.” Less than an hour later, Donald Jr.’s brother Eric tweeted, “Where is the GOP?! Our voters will never forget…” (Eric deleted the tweet on Thursday evening.)
Where is the GOP? For the most part they have been quiet, but a few have spoken out against Trump’s efforts to destabilize our democracy and after the Trump boys made their pleas on Twitter, a number of Republican senators went on Fox News to support the president. Here is a running tally of which Republicans have condemned Trump’s rhetoric, which ones are publicly supporting him, and which ones seem to be hedging their bets.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham
On Thursday evening, Graham went on Fox News to tell Sean Hannity: “I’m here tonight to stand with President Trump. He’s stood with me.” Graham then endorsed Trump’s allegations of fraud, which are baseless, and added that Republican senators would be briefed on them soon. “Senate Republicans are going to be briefed by the Trump campaign Saturday and every Senate Republican, house Republican needs to get on television and tell this story,” he said. When Hannity asked Graham if the election should be “invalidated,” he responded “I think everything should be on the table.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
After Graham appeared on Fox News on Thursday, Cruz went on Hannity to make baseless allegations of fraud in cities that voted in large numbers for Joe Biden, saying that election officials were “setting the stage to potentially steal election not just from the president, but from the over 60 million people across this country who voted for him all across this country.” (Biden was winning the popular vote by about 4 million votes as of Thursday evening.) Cruz also suggested “we may see the state legislatures get involved” or the “U.S. Supreme Court” involved in overturning the vote and that “we need the Department of Justice in there” to affect the vote count.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley
Hawley went on Fox News on Thursday evening to insinuate that fraud was occurring without any specific allegations and to complain of an alleged lack of transparency. “We have seen reports in Detroit, about ballots brought in there, new ballots in the middle of the night,” Hawley told Tucker Carlson. “We have seen it in Philadelphia. Now again … I don’t know if those allegations are well founded or not. That’s why you have observers. That’s why you have a process.”
North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer
On Thursday, Kramer repeatedly tweeted attacks against the Fox News Decision Desk for calling Arizona on election night, saying Donald Trump “deserves better.” On Friday, according to Andrew Kaczynski, he went further, saying on the radio “when Ohio got called all the hands got on deck in the major corrupt cities” to swing the vote.
Alabama Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville
The former Auburn football coach who just defeated Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama posted on Twitter: “The election results are out of control. It’s like the whistle has blown, the game is over, and the players have gone home, but the referees are suddenly adding touchdowns to the other team’s side of the scoreboard.”
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel
On Thursday, the head of the RNC echoed Trump’s claims that Democrats were trying to “steal” the election, saying, “We are keeping up the fight against Democrat attacks on a fair election.” She also suggested to Fox News that there was something nefarious about the vote count: “We support the voters that stood hours in line that feel like they’re being disenfranchised by votes being found in the middle of the night. We just had it happen in Georgia, some of our poll watchers are seeing some suspicious activity and we need to understand that.”
Rep. Jim Jordan
The Ohio Congressman told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday that “allowing votes to be counted after the election” is “contrary to state law, contrary … to the U.S. constitution.” (The great majority of votes are counted, and have always been counted, “after the election.”)
Rep. Matt Gaetz
The Florida Congressman has been one of Trump’s fiercest defenders over the course of the administration. On Friday, he tweeted: “If Republicans don’t dig in and fight this fraud now, we will never win another election again.”
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich
The Georgia Republican, whose wife, Callista, is ambassador to the Vatican, has been vocal that Trump should not accept any of the current results. On Thursday, one of Gingrich’s tweets was labeled as possibly “misleading” by Twitter as he claimed, “It is increasingly clear that Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania are all being stolen by Democrats and the research is almost certainly going to yield far more votes stolen than Biden’s current margins.” This followed remarks on Fox News on Wednesday morning suggesting without a shred of evidence that criminal fraud might have been committed in Philadelphia, that Nevada was “set up to be stolen by the Democrats,” that Trump should “be prepared to file suit in every single state” to contest the results, and that he should ask allies in the Senate to investigate the vote on his behalf.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh
On Wednesday, Limbaugh echoed Trump’s declaration of victory, saying, “Donald Trump was reelected last night. Time will show us this. You know this. When they stopped counting, it means they’re looking for Democrat votes.”
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
On Wednesday and Thursday, Bondi—who was part of Trump’s impeachment defense team and, during her time as attorney general in Florida, declined to bring charges against Trump University—has been a key voice in his legal team’s false allegations of voter fraud, including claims that there has been “evidence of cheating” and “fake ballots.”
Former 2016 Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski
Lewandowski has also been pressing false claims of fraud. On Thursday, he doxed an attorney defending the city of Philadelphia against Trump lawsuits on Twitter.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Eric Trump said Giuliani was “really leading the legal effort.” Giuliani has been vocal about making unsubstantiated claims of stolen votes and has said that 125,000 votes in Pennsylvania should be indiscriminately “deducted from the count.”
Team Democratic Election
Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania state Senate Jake Corman
It has been suggested on Fox News that the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania state Legislature might overturn the results of the state’s vote and the entire election itself, with Graham saying he was open to the possibility. In order to outright steal the election this way, though, the Trump campaign would need Corman to go along. On Thursday, he told CNN analyst and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum: “The PA election code says electors go to the popular vote winner. The Legislature has no ability to appoint electors.”
Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell
On Wednesday the top Republican senator said: “Claiming you’ve won the election is different from finishing the counting.”
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt
CNN’s Manu Raju reported that the chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee was critical of Trump’s message during a conference call: “You can’t stop the count in one state and decide you want the count to continue in another state. That might be how you’d like to see the system work but that’s not how the system works.”
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman
“Under our Constitution, state legislatures set the rules & states administer our elections. We should respect that process and ensure that all ballots cast in accordance with state laws are counted,” Portman said on Wednesday. “It’s that simple.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
“I speak as a former U.S. Attorney, there is no basis to make the argument tonight,” Christie said on ABC News following Trump’s premature victory declaration. “There just isn’t,” he added. “I disagree with what he did tonight.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
The Florida senator on Wednesday was fairly unequivocal, tweeting: “Taking days to count legally cast votes is NOT fraud and court challenges to votes cast after the legal voting deadline is NOT suppression.”
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey
Toomey initially hedged, but he has since denounced the president. On Thursday afternoon, Toomey told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he didn’t see a “huge case of fraud that needs to be immediately addressed” in the Pennsylvania vote count and praised “the vast majority of election officials” in his state for being “conscientious, honest and doing a great job.” Simultaneously, though, he endorsed the Trump campaign’s complaints that it was not being permitted to adequately observe the vote count in the state, and said he was hopeful that the Supreme Court would reverse the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and decide not to allow the counting of late-arriving mail ballots that have been segregated. “I am concerned about the lack of transparency, a lack of opportunity to observe what’s going on,” he told Tapper. “You know when someone goes down that road of precluding observation, it makes you wonder why—that’s not, that’s not encouraging.” He did conclude, however, by suggesting that whoever wins, the loser should accept the final outcome: “When we know it’s over, then both sides have to accept the outcome.” By Friday morning, Toomey was a bit more definitive: “I saw the president’s speech last night and it was very hard to watch. The president’s allegations of large-scale fraud and theft of the election are just not substantiated. I’m not aware of any significant wrongdoing here.”
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney
On Thursday, the former Republican presidential standard-bearer tweeted: “Counting every vote is at the heart of Democracy. That process is often hard and, for those running, frustrating. The votes will be counted. If there are irregularities alleged, they will be investigated and ultimately resolved in the courts. Have faith in democracy, in our Constitution, and in the American people.” On Friday, he was a bit more forceful: “The President is within his rights to request recounts, to call for investigation of alleged voting irregularities where evidence exists, and to exhaust legal remedies—doing these things is consistent with our election process. He is wrong to say the election was rigged, corrupt and stolen—doing so damages the cause of freedom here and around the world, weakens the institutions that lie at the foundation of the Republic, and recklessly inflames destructive and dangerous passions.”
Utah Gov.-elect Spencer Cox
Cox was also forceful in denouncing Trump’s rhetoric on Wednesday, saying, “Just a little reminder that there is nothing nefarious about it taking a few days to count all legitimate votes.” He also said, “I have a deep concern every time we call into question the process of elections without any evidence.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan
On Thursday, Hogan said: “There is no defense for the President’s comments tonight undermining our Democratic process. America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before. No election or person is more important than our Democracy.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger
The Illinois congressman on Wednesday told Trump to “stop, full stop” his claims that the vote is being stolen and calls for the count to be halted. “Bottom line is we cannot undermine our election integrity,” Kinzinger said. “I’m certainly concerned that, you know, comments like this can spark violence,” he added.
Rep. Denver Riggleman
On Thursday evening, Riggleman tweeted: “Like [Rep. Kinzinger] I took an oath to defend this country and fight for the democratic ideals it stands for. Count every vote, yes, but stop the Bravo Sierra, Mr. President, and respect the democratic process that makes America great.”
Rep. Carlos Curbelo
On Thursday, the Florida congressman tweeted: “By ‘illegal votes’ it seems [President Trump] is referring to votes cast by mail which disproportionately benefitted his opponent this election. Those votes are not in any way illegal. Important for all public leaders, especially Republicans, to stand up for our democracy at this hour.”
Rep. Paul Mitchell
The Michigan congressman tweeted on Thursday: “I have experienced both losses and victories in elections. Losses hurt deeply - I know that personally. But our nation demands that its political leaders accept both wins and losses with grace and maturity. Let the voters decide.”
Rep. Will Hurd
The outgoing congressman from Texas tweeted on Thursday: “A sitting president undermining our political process & questioning the legality of the voices of countless Americans without evidence is not only dangerous & wrong, it undermines the very foundation this nation was built upon. Every American should have his or her vote counted.”
New Jersey Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick
On Friday, Bramnick tweeted: “As the Republican leader in the State Assembly I am deeply concerned about the President Trump’s allegation that the election is being ‘stolen’ without evidence of fraud or illegality. This attack directly from the White House is dangerous to our democracy.”
Conservative commentator Erick Erickson
Erickson said on Twitter on Wednesday, “Losing an election is not a coup.”
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro
“No, Trump has not already won the election, and it is deeply irresponsible for him to say he has,” Shapiro said on Twitter on Wednesday.
Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer
The former Trump official on Thursday denounced generic claims of fraud: “I haven’t seen any evidence of it. And again, I don’t think it helps his case … If he sees an instance in Pennsylvania or Nevada and this particular thing happened, then call it out. … But saying voter fraud … You can’t just throw a term out that without being specific.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
On Wednesday, Huckabee defended a full vote count on Fox News. “If the president loses on that front, then he loses,” he said. “We win by ballots, not by bullets … and we’ve got to keep reminding ourselves of that.”
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge
The former Pennsylvania governor and Bush cabinet official tweeted on Thursday: “With his remarks from the White House tonight, the President disrespected every single American who figured out a way to safely vote amid a pandemic that has taken 235,000 lives. Not to mention those who are dutifully counting that vote. Absolutely shameful. Yet so predictable.”
Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake
Flake tweeted on Thursday: “Fellow Republicans, don’t wait until the election is called to defend our elections and our democratic institutions. The time is now.”
Republican strategist Karl Rove
Rove said on Fox News on Wednesday that Trump “has the bigger hand to play here, and the bigger hand to play is to have confidence in the system.” He added: “Nobody’s going to be able to create large numbers of fake votes and somehow submit them into the system.”
Republican election lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg
On CNN Wednesday, Ginsberg responded to Trump’s victory declaration by calling it a “distressing moment” for him. “What the President said tonight is not only unprecedented and it not only lacks any basis in the law, it really is a disservice to all the other men and women who are on the ballot as Republicans today,” he added.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
On Wednesday, McCarthy defended Trump’s premature declaration of victory, saying, “The people vote, up until Election Day, not the days after. That’s exactly what the president was expressing.”
Former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
On Thursday, Haley tweeted ambiguously: “We all owe [Trump] for his leadership of conservative victories for Senate, House, & state legislatures. He and the American people deserve transparency & fairness as the votes are counted. The law must be followed. We have to keep the faith that the truth will prevail.”
Vice President Mike Pence
The vice president spoke immediately after Trump on Wednesday morning. Pence attempted to reframe Trump’s claim that counting the votes was equivalent to stealing the election as an effort to protect “the integrity of the vote.” At the same time, he mouthed a defense of the democratic process. “The right to vote has been at the center of the democracy since the founding of this nation,” Pence said on Wednesday. After Trump on Thursday spoke from the White House and repeated his false claims that the election was being stolen from him, Pence hedged further, tweeting: “I Stand With President @realDonaldTrump . We must count every LEGAL vote.”
Former Pennsylvania Sen. and CNN analyst Rick Santorum
On Wednesday, Santorum criticized Trump: “The idea of using the word ‘fraud’ being committed by people counting votes is wrong. They’re counting the absentee and mail-in ballots right now. And some counties have stopped counting. Why have they stopped counting? Because it’s 2:48 in the morning!” By Thursday, Santorum was claiming Trump’s positioning hasn’t been that bad, saying, “I give credit frankly to both sides, because I think the president, you can say, well he’s tweeting everything. … For Donald Trump, he’s being fairly restrained.”
This post has been updated to include additional information.
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