Even after a violent mob rioted in the U.S. Capitol because they believed President Donald Trump’s lie that the November election was stolen from him, some Republican senators are sticking with the lie.
It took hours to evict rioters from the Capitol on Wednesday, but when the Senate resumed consideration of an objection to the election result, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) picked up right where he left off, saying Congress needed to investigate fake fraud claims.
“I hope that this body will not miss the opportunity to take affirmative action to address the concerns of so many millions of Americans,” Hawley said on the Senate floor on Wednesday night.
Hawley, the first senator to say he’d object to certifying the Electoral College vote, later suggested the mob had a point and that Congress should speak to their concerns:
“To say to millions of Americans tonight that violence is never warranted, that violence will not be tolerated, that those who engage in it will be prosecuted but that this body will act to address the concerns of all Americans across the country,” Hawley said. “We do need an investigation into irregularities, fraud.”
Earlier in the day, shortly before pro-Trump rioters pushed past security barricades outside the Senate, fought police officers and stormed the halls of the Capitol, Hawley was photographed raising a fist in solidarity.
It was not a surprise that what was ostensibly a peaceful pro-Trump rally would turn into a violent mess. The president’s supporters had recently marauded through downtown Washington, and the president had been encouraging them, saying Wednesday would be “wild.” So far, one person is dead after a shooting inside the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.
Some of the other Republicans who had signed on to the plan, hatched by Hawley and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) ― to object to the certification of the Electoral College results and appoint an election fraud commission ― backed off, including Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.).
“Obviously, the commission that we have asked for is not going to happen at this point, and I understand that,” said Lankford, who was interrupted mid-sentence earlier in the day when rioters breached the Capitol. “And we’re headed tonight towards the certification of Joe Biden to be the president of the United States.”
In the end, the only Republicans who voted to object to the certification of the vote in Arizona were Hawley, Cruz, Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and John Kennedy (R-La.). Ninety-three senators voted the other way.
The Trump campaign filed dozens of lawsuits in several states after the election and failed to produce a shred of evidence of voter fraud, and the Supreme Court has refused to get involved.
Now Congress is going through the routine process of certifying each state’s Electoral College result. The Hawley gang had planned to object to Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia. The Constitution doesn’t say Congress can fuss with electoral votes, however, and enough Republicans have already said they won’t object that the gang has no chance of success.
Hawley’s main argument in recent days has been that voters don’t trust the election result, therefore an election commission is necessary. But the lack of trust in the election results sprung from the lies Republicans themselves have been telling.
“For any who remain insistent on an audit in order to satisfy the many people who believe that the election was stolen, I’d offer this perspective: No congressional audit is ever going to convince these voters, particularly when the president will continue to say that the election was stolen,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said. “The best way we could show respect for the voters who were upset is by telling them the truth.”
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