Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC – Dems push McConnell on COVID-19 relief; Grassley contracts COVID-19 Biden, Harris briefed by national security experts amid transition obstacles Top Democrat calls Trump’s Afghan drawdown ‘the right policy decision’ as others warn of ‘mistake’ MORE (R-Utah) directly criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpManufacturers association calls on GSA to begin transition process Biden vote tally getting close to 80 million Brent Budowsky wins The Hill’s 2020 election prediction contest MORE on Thursday night for efforts by the president and his allies to reverse the results of the presidential election.
Romney, in a statement that marks the strongest pushback by a Senate Republican, said the president had “failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy” in a myriad of challenges the president’s legal team launched in several battleground states where he trailed President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenManufacturers association calls on GSA to begin transition process Biden vote tally getting close to 80 million AOC, progressive Dems attack corporate greed during health care discussion MORE.
“The president has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election. It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president,” Romney said in a statement posted to Twitter.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) November 20, 2020
Romney’s statement comes after Trump invited some of Michigan’s top Republicans to the White House in a sign he may be seeking a way around the election results where Biden is projected to get 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
The president also reached out to officials in Wayne County who had sought to block the certification of votes there. Meanwhile, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiMick Mulvaney ‘concerned’ by Giuliani role in Trump election case Hoyer calls for changing House rules to shield whistleblowers Giuliani denies asking for ,000 a day to do legal work for Trump MORE and the team of lawyers overseeing the campaign’s legal challenges used a press conference on Thursday to levy claims of fraud as part of an effort to sway the vote certification process and pressure state lawmakers to send pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College.
Romney is one of only a handful of GOP senators who have acknowledged Biden’s White House victory, and his statement on Thursday night makes a rare instance of a Republican member of Congress directly calling out Trump.
Two other GOP senators — Sens. Ben SasseBen SasseHillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay 3 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software Cyber agency urges employees not to lose focus in wake of director’s firing GOP breaks with Trump firing of cyber chief: Adds to ‘confusion and chaos’ MORE (R-Neb.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstBrent Budowsky wins The Hill’s 2020 election prediction contest Incoming Iowa GOP lawmaker tests positive for coronavirus Sullivan wins reelection in Alaska, giving Republicans 50 seats in Senate MORE (R-Iowa) — have pushed back against comments made during Giuliani’s press conference on Thursday.
Sasse, a potential 2024 contender, warned that the “wild press conferences erode public trust,” adding that “we are a nation of laws, not tweets.”
Ernst, meanwhile, rebuked claims made by Sidney Powell, a lawyer associated with the campaign, who said that down-ballot candidates could have “paid to have the system rigged to work for them,” with the GOP senator calling the statement “offensive” and “absolutely outrageous.”
Though most Senate Republicans haven’t echoed Trump’s claims that the presidential election was “rigged,” they’ve also given him broad leeway on his legal challenges and declined to publicly discuss Biden or acknowledge his election victory.
And even as Romney directly called out Trump and Sases ripped Giuliani, top Republicans in the caucus, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: 12 million to lose federal unemployment benefits after Christmas | Warren urges Biden to cancel student debt | Stocks close with losses as states, cities reimpose COVID-19 restrictions Hillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay 3 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software Overnight Health Care: US passes 250K COVID deaths | Pfizer says vaccine shows 95-percent efficacy | Coronavirus relief at a standstill MORE (R-Ky.), have yet to weigh in.
McConnell, during a press conference this week, batted down a question about if the General Services Administration should certify Biden as the winner, something it’s so far refused to do.
“There’s a way to deal with disputes, it’s called the courts and the courts in the various states are dealing with whatever disputes there are, whatever evidence may be provided, and we are going to have an orderly transfer from this administration to the next one. What we all say about it is frankly irrelevant,” McConnell said this week.
Trump’s efforts are unlikely to change the outcome of the election, but they have led to serious concerns about damage to the nation’s democratic system.
Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential candidate, has been more willing to be critical of Trump, and was the only GOP senator to vote for one of the articles of impeachment earlier this year.
In an episode of “The Axe Files” podcast released earlier Thursday, Romney warned that Trump’s actions in the lame duck could be even more damaging than the president’s refusal to let Biden begin the formal transition process.
“The consequences of what’s happening during this lame-duck period, I think, are potentially more severe than the consequences associated with a late transition process,” Romney said.
–Updated at 11:28 p.m.