Claims of voter fraud have left prominent Republicans divided
Last night, looking deflated and tired, Donald Trump addressed the nation and the world. At his press conference the President railed against mail-in ballots and Pennsylvania Democrats. He promised litigation to restore a version of the election that would see him re-elected. “If you count the legal votes,” he said “I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can steal the election from us.”
Several major networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — cut away from the speech. Fox News continued to broadcast it. As did CNN, where anchors like Jake Tapper and Dana Bash called for senior Republicans to launch an “intervention” against Trump. But would they? Or would they back his claims that the election was being stolen?
For Republicans it’s a narrow tight-rope to walk. Back the President, and potentially end up supporting something that has the whiff of a coup about it. Fail to back him, and — given the President’s enormous popularity with the party’s base — torpedo any chance you have of being a contender in 2024.
So, of the names you’d expect, how many of them are still on side?
Mike Pence – ON SIDE
The Vice President was not in the briefing room yesterday evening, and his language at the first press conference was decidedly more cautious. But he later tweeted that he stood with President, and that every “LEGAL” vote should be counted, so we’re counting him as on side so far.
Donald Trump Jr – ON SIDE
Before the press conference, the younger Donald tweeted that his father should go “to total war over this election to expose all the fraud”. The usually Trump-sympathetic New York Post described this as “clueless”.
Eric Trump – ON SIDE
“Where are Republicans!” Eric tweeted yesterday. “Have some backbone. Fight against this fraud.”
Lindsey Graham – ON SIDE
Senator Graham has defended Trump’s claims, and personally donated $500,000 to the President’s legal fund to challenge election procedures in swing states. On Sean Hannity’s show yesterday, Graham described the Pennsylvania count as being “crooked as a snake.”
Ted Cruz – ON SIDE
Also appearing on Hannity, Cruz essentially repeated Graham’s comments. “The American people have a right” Cruz tweeted, “to be angry.”
Tom Cotton – ON SIDE
Senator Cotton has linked to President Trump’s legal defence on Twitter, and called for all legally cast votes to be counted.
Steve Bannon – ON SIDE
Trump’s erstwhile Chief Strategist was suspended from Twitter yesterday after suggesting that Dr Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray should be beheaded if the President won a second term. “I’d actually like to go back to the old times of Tudor England. I’d put their heads on pikes…” he said. “I’d put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats, you either get with the program or you’re gone.” Bannon, needless to say, backs Trump’s claims of election fraud.
Rudy Giuliani – ON SIDE
Accompanied by Eric Trump, Giuliani appeared in Philadelphia on Wednesday at a press conference. With over a million votes remaining to be counted, Giuliani and Eric claimed that the President had won the state. “Do you think we’re stupid? Do you think we’re fools?” Giuliani said, as he explained that the alleged mail-in ballot fraud was worse than anything he had “ever seen before.”
Tucker Carlson – EQUIVOCAL
Tucker’s opening remarks on his show yesterday evening did not openly support President Trump. Carlson asked that “legitimate enquiry” into the election results takes place. “Slow down. No hasty calls. Our system works. It has worked before. If people air concerns, resolve concerns.”
Mitch McConnell – EQUIVOCAL
On Friday morning McConnell called for “every legal vote to be counted” in a tweet. The remarks have been reported in different outlets as “supportive” and a “rebuke” to the President. McConnell stopped short of making the claims Trump has made on voter fraud since Tuesday.
Nikki Haley – EQUIVOCAL
A potential 2024 frontrunner, Haley thanked the President on Twitter yesterday for Republican victories in the Senate, House and state legislatures. Regarding claims of fraud, she called for “the law to be followed.” Earlier in the week Don Jr. attacked Haley for a “lack of action” over vote-rigging claims.
Josh Hawley – EQUIVOCAL
Another Senator with 2024 ambitions, Hawley appeared yesterday on Tucker Carlson’s show. He called for “transparency” and “integrity” in vote counts, but did not back up the President’s claims of widespread fraud.
Kellyanne Conway – EQUIVOCAL
Conway has not explicitly backed the President this week over his accusations of vote-rigging. In a Fox News appearance yesterday, she criticised the Biden campaign for prematurely declaring that victory was “imminent” while votes where still being counted.
Mike Pompeo – SILENT
The Secretary of State has yet to comment on the President’s claims.
Ivanka Trump – SILENT
Ivanka has been far quieter than her brothers. She’s made no comment on her father’s claim so far. According to a report in CNN today, Trump allies are planning to ask Ivanka to convince the President to step down.
Mitt Romney – AGAINST
The long-time Trump critic and Utah senator did not directly address Trump’s claims this week. Instead he posted the following statement on Twitter today:
Counting every vote is at the heart of democracy. That process is often long and, for those running, frustrating. The votes will be counted. If there are irregularities alleged, they will be investigated and ultimately resolved in the courts. Have faith in democracy, in our constitution, and in the American people.