Trump Presses State Republicans to Overturn Biden’s Victory

President Donald Trump has stepped up his personal appeals to state-level Republicans to help overturn the election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden, but at least one Republican U.S. senator is telling him it’s time to stop.

Trump has been calling or meeting with Republican officials in contested battleground states including Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania to get state legislatures to ignore the popular vote for Biden and appoint rival electors to the Electoral College. So far, the officials have declined.

“Whether it’s a legislator or legislatures, or whether it’s a justice of the Supreme Court or a number of justices of the Supreme Court -- let’s see if they have the courage to do what everybody in this country knows is right,” Trump said Tuesday at a White House event on coronavirus vaccines.

Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the election was “rigged” and that he actually won, even as state and federal courts have been rejecting lawsuits from his campaign and its allies to challenge the results and stop states from certifying Biden’s victory because they lack evidence.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, one of the few Republicans in Congress who have acknowledged Biden’s victory, told the Philadelphia Inquirer in a story published Tuesday that Trump must stop trying to get state officials to help him in his efforts to overturn the election.

“It’s completely unacceptable and it’s not going to work and the president should give up trying to get legislatures to overturn the results of the elections in their respective states,” Toomey told the newspaper.

On Tuesday, Trump thanked Republican Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler and other state Republicans on Twitter who “fully understand what went on in the 2020 Election. It’s called total corruption!” He also retweeted calls for Florida and other states to join a lawsuit that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he’s filing in the U.S. Supreme Court suing Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in a long-shot bid to challenge the election results.

Trump called Cutler twice in the past week, after urging Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to call a special session of the legislature and meeting with Republican state lawmakers and election officials in recent weeks. One of the things discussed with Cutler was appointing a rival slate of Trump electors, and the speaker made it clear to Trump that that can’t happen, spokesman Mike Straub said.

But Cutler was among 75 Republican state legislators in Pennsylvania who signed a Dec. 4 letter to the commonwealth’s congressional delegation urging lawmakers to object to the votes from the Biden electors when Congress meets in a joint session on Jan. 6 to tally the electoral votes. Tuesday is the so-called safe harbor deadline when Congress must accept the slates of electors from certified results as “conclusive” if there are no outstanding disputes.

It’s not unprecedented for election contests to last beyond the safe harbor deadline, Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis said in a statement. “Despite the media trying desperately to proclaim that the fight is over, we will continue to champion election integrity until legal vote is counted fairly and accurately,” the attorneys said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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