President Trump has steadfastly refused to recognize his loss in last month's presidential election. While Republicans and Trump's appointees within his administration originally backed his efforts to question election results, the tides are slowly turning. On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) acknowledged Joe Biden as president-elect for the first time. Predictably, this public recognition prompted Trump to lash out at McConnell on Twitter.
Four days after Election Day, news broke that Biden had won Pennsylvania. Because the state voted for Trump in 2016, its switch to blue would have been devastating anyway. But it dealt a double blow because it meant that Biden had officially secured the 270 electoral votes needed to declare victory.
In his effort to question the election's legitimacy, Trump spent the past few months crying voter fraud while Republicans, including in Pennsylvania, launched a seemingly endless slew of lawsuits. However, Trump's own Cabinet department called the 2020 elections "the most secure in American history" and even his long-time ally Attorney General William Barr admitted there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Now, Trump has lost yet another public battle, after McConnell delivered a speech on the Senate floor following the Electoral College's affirmation of Biden's win. "Our country has officially a president-elect and a vice president-elect," McConnell said. "The Electoral College has spoken. So today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden."
McConnell's acknowledgement of Biden as president-elect presents a major issue for Trump's ongoing campaign to overturn the election results. In addition to his speech, Politico reported that McConnell also warned Republican senators in a private caucus call to not object to the election results. Per the outlet, he said doing so would force Republicans into a "terrible vote" because they could have to vote down objections and appear to stand against Trump in the process.
This warning doesn't mean all Republicans are on board with McConnell's plan, of course. There are several House Republicans planning to challenge the election results in hopes of reversing the outcome. Led by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), the lawmakers will challenge Biden's victory on Jan. 6, when Congress meets to officially certify the results.
"A republic is nothing without honest and accurate elections," Brooks tweeted. "Heroic patriots fought and died to give America a republic. Media reports Senate ducks election fraud theft ... because it requires a 'terrible vote'??!! I can only hope that is 'fake news'."
On Wednesday morning, meanwhile, Trump himself tweeted an article about his allies "slamming" McConnell, writing, "Mitch, 75,000,000 VOTES, a record for a sitting president (by a lot). Too soon to give up. Republican Party must finally learn to fight. People are angry!" Of course, 75 million votes may be a record for a sitting president — but it is not more than the roughly 81 million votes cast for Biden.
In a phone call, Brooks elaborated on his position, telling Politico, "I find it unfathomable that anyone would acquiesce to election theft and voter fraud because they lack the courage to take a difficult vote on the House or Senate floor. Last time I checked, that’s why we were elected to Congress."
While Brooks and other Republicans can go ahead with their plans to challenge the election, it won't change anything. In fact, The New York Times reported that Brooks may only achieve one thing: forcing Vice President Mike Pence, who would have to oversee any debate, to admit that Trump has lost.