A Republican lawmaker is vowing to carry out his challenge of Joe Biden’s election as president despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recognition of the results and warnings from other GOP senators that the effort is doomed to fail.
Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama said Tuesday he’ll object when Congress convenes Jan. 6 to count certificates of electoral votes, usually a mostly ceremonial process confirming the results of the presidential election.
President Donald Trump so far has refused to concede -- citing claims of fraud -- and urged his supporters to fight on. Brooks said he would press ahead.
“If you surrender, there is zero chance of success,” Brooks said in an interview. “Fighting yields a better chance than surrender, so I fight.”
Presidential electors in the 50 states and the District of Columbia met on Monday to affirm Biden’s victory on Nov. 3 with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Biden also won the popular vote by 7 million ballots. Courts at the state and federal level, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have rejected efforts to overturn the election results.
Brooks, 66, dismissed McConnell’s statement earlier in the day that the Electoral College settled the matter and offering his congratulations to Biden on his election.
“It’s exactly what you’d expect from Senator McConnell,” the five-term Republican said, declining to elaborate. “Senator McConnell is not the key to this. The key are the American voters.”
The law allows for members of Congress to object to votes from any given state. Unless a member of both the House and the Senate object in writing though, the process can’t go forward. Brooks said he hasn’t asked any senator to raise an objection and doesn’t know whether one will. Like Trump, Brooks made claims challenging the legitimacy of the vote.
“It depends on whether a senator is willing to fight for our republic and the election system that is the underpinning for it,” Brooks said. “If a senator joins in the fight for our republic, then we would object on a state-by-state basis as that state’s name is called.”
John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said Monday that any challenge to the electoral votes is “not going anywhere.” McConnell, during a call on Tuesday, told GOP senators to refrain from joining any effort to object, according to a person familiar with the matter. Politico reported McConnell’s warning earlier.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said Senate Republicans on the call with McConnell were encouraged to accept the election outcome even though it’s not what they “would have envisioned for the next four years.” She told reporters that “there wasn’t any pushback to it. There wasn’t anybody saying ‘Oh, wait a minute.’”
Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said he has not heard of any of his colleagues who are willing to join Brooks’ effort. Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of McConnell’s leadership team said, “objecting serves no purpose.”
Asked whether GOP leaders are actively discouraging senators from making objections, Blunt said that “would be stronger than explaining the futility of the situation.”
Any objection to Biden’s election wouldn’t stand in the Democratic-controlled House, and enough GOP senators have indicated they won’t go along to block the move in the Senate.
Brooks didn’t name the states that he and his colleagues plan to target with their objections but indicated in a C-SPAN interview that Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin, and “maybe Arizona” are likely candidates.
Brooks said he will speak with the parliamentarian on how to proceed on Jan. 6. He said the number of House members who have voiced support for his effort is in “double figures,” but he wasn’t more specific.
“If the voters demand action then I’m quite confident that these elected officials will appropriately respond,” Brooks said. “So it’s all in the hands of the voters.”
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