The first small cracks in the Republican support wall for President Trump and his unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud in the 2020 election have begun, and a growing number of elected officials and party leaders signaled Thursday that they would indulge in Mr Trump’s conspiracy theories only for so long . Some were ready to openly contradict him.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said it was time to call Joseph R. Biden Jr. “President-elect.” The Republican Attorney General of Arizona said that despite the president’s protests, Mr Trump would not win his state. And on Capitol Hill, several Republican senators have started to say in measured tones that Mr. Biden should be eligible to designate intelligence information as a future commander in chief, or that it is time to recognize that he will soon be certified as president-elect.
When asked when he believed Mr. Trump should accept the result, Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, even set a deadline for the president to acknowledge the reality: December 13 – the day before the electoral college delegations cast their votes for the president.
Influential party financiers and strategists have also begun to interfere.
“The president is doing a disservice to his crazier supporters by insisting that he won the November 3rd election without fraud,” said one Editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper from the family of Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. “That’s just wrong.” Mr Adelson and his wife Miriam have donated more than $ 75 million to Super PACs that support Mr Trump.
Karl Rove, the Republican strategist, published a Wall Street Journal article under the heading “This election result will not be overturned.”
Mr Trump has a long memory, a penchant for revenge on those who cross him, and overwhelming support among Republican voters. The fact that so few prominent Republicans are willing to publicly break with him even if they are defeated is the latest sign of his continued influence in the Republican Party, now and in the future.
“If you look at the number of votes he’s received, you see the kind of buzz he’s generating, I mean – he’s going to be a very, very significant figure whether he’s in the White House or not,” said Senator Josh Hawley, Republican from Missouri. “I don’t know who else would be considered a leader if it weren’t for him.”
No prominent potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024 – including Mr. Hawley – has criticized Mr. Trump for refusing to consent to the transfer of power. Most have remained silent or have given Mr. Trump, who has spoken privately about running again in four years, leeway and support without imitating his most baseless conspiracies. Vice President Mike Pence, who followed Mr. Trump to the lectern on election night, tried to sound like he was firmly with the president without repeating his false claims to victory.
But now that Mr Biden is a leader in enough states to give him up to 306 votes for the electoral college – the same sum Mr Trump won and declared a “landslide” in 2016 – and with no credible evidence of electoral errors, Republicans cautiously begin Acknowledge the reality of Mr. Biden’s victory. The former vice president leads with more than 20,000 votes in Wisconsin, 53,000 in Pennsylvania and 148,000 votes in Michigan – comparable to or greater than Mr Trump’s profit margins in those states four years ago.
“There is an inevitable logic to that,” said Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, who congratulated Mr Biden on his victory on Fox News. “None of these recounts and allegations will reverse this choice.”
Democrats argue that indulging Mr. Trump’s reluctance will undermine confidence in the nation’s democratic institutions and undermine the legitimacy of the new Biden administration.
Former President Obama called it a “dangerous road” in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”. according to excerpts published on Thursday. He said he was concerned that “Republican officials who clearly know better would agree”.
On Thursday, the president made new baseless allegations against an election software company. Groups representing government and security officials, including the Trump administration, as well as private sector election vendors, issued a joint statement saying, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes.” has or has been compromised in any way. “
Mr Trump’s strategy is a familiar one he has employed since the first full day of his administration. He then asked his press secretary, Sean Spicer, to march into the White House briefing room to explain that, despite clear evidence to the contrary, his dedication crowd was the largest in history. Now he wants Republicans to ignore the election results and declare him the 2020 winner anyway.
When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo predicted with a grin earlier this week that there would be “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Trump said positively reposted the video on Twitter.
The political and rhetorical safety room that many Republicans have retreated into is a call to “count every legal vote,” suggesting that there have been a number of illegal ballots for which there is no evidence. (There are also more extreme Democratic fears that G.O.P. state lawmakers might elect rogues who might ignore the findings in their states, but Mr Biden’s campaign has rejected such talks.)
Right now, Senate Republicans are particularly suspicious of crossing Mr Trump ahead of the two Georgia runoff elections on Jan. 5 that will determine control of the chamber, realizing they need to mobilize Mr Trump’s grassroots without him on the ballot. There are fears that Mr Trump could attack either Senator Kelly Loeffler or Senator David Perdue for being insufficiently loyal.
The transition of the president
Both senators signed an unusual joint statement calling for the republican foreign minister in Georgia to resign. This move has been widely interpreted as a curry favor.
“It’s pretty clear that the president doesn’t care about the Senate majority or those two senators, so they know it would be nothing to turn them on and crush the turnout,” said Brendan Buck, who served as the top advisor to the last two Speaker of the Republican House, Paul D. Ryan and John A. Boehner. “We’ve always talked about how the president took over the party. But here’s an example where he held the base G.O.P. voters hostage to force Republicans to participate in his charade.”
Connecticut Democrat Senator Chris Murphy said Republican allegiance to Mr. Trump has resulted in the party “now being a full personality cult.”
“I think they understand that Trump will continue to dominate their politics for the next decade, and they have all made the decision that if they intersect with him, they cannot personally survive.” “This is a devastating development for our country.”
Mr Murphy said undermining the legitimacy of Mr Biden’s victory had real consequences. “If 40 percent of the country still believes that Joe Biden’s election was fraudulent, it is very difficult to do even impartial things like distributing a vaccine,” he said.
The Trump campaign continues to bombard supporters with urgent requests for cash for his “Electoral Defense Fund,” but the fine print of those appeals shows that the president is indeed looking to his own future, raising cash primarily for a new political action committee. no account for legal and recounting costs. The first 60 percent of every donation goes to Mr. Trump’s new PAC, Save America, and 40 percent to the Republican National Committee.
It is only after the PAC has received $ 5,000 from an individual that money is added to the Trump Recount Fund.
Bob Bauer, a top lawyer for Mr. Biden, has dismissed Mr. Trump’s legal papers and tweets as “theater”. While Mr. Trump continues to raise fears of a stolen election, some even have aides and allies privately acknowledge that Mr. Trump lost.
The reality is that Mr. Trump is not only the president but also a major publisher and distributor. In the week after the election, his posts dominated Facebook, making up the 10 most engaged status updates in the US and 22 of the top 25. “I won this election a lot!” Was his top contribution.
Mr Trump also posted the most engaging link on Facebook this week, a call for cash proposals to fight the election results.
Within the Republican Party, the president remains a unique influence. He effectively anointed Ronna McDaniel for another term as chairman of the Republican National Committee with a tweet this week.
Several R.N.C. Members reiterated Mr Trump’s fraud claims on Thursday.
“It is possible the real winner will never be known,” said Rob Steele, an R.N.C. Member from Michigan where some Republican lawmakers are calling for a “thorough scrutiny” of the elections.
Most were happy to have Mr Biden elected President until December 14th – if so.
“The parties always belong to the last presidential candidate until the next presidential candidate comes,” said Fleischer, the former White House press secretary. “It won’t be Donald Trump’s party when the Republicans have a new candidate in 2024.”
“Unless,” he added, “it’s Donald Trump.”
Luke Broadwater and Reid J. Epstein reported from Washington.