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A coalition of 11 Republican senators announced Saturday that it will challenge the outcome of the presidential election by voting to reject voters from some states when Congress meets next week to certify the Electoral College results that President-elect Joe Biden won. .

The 11 senators, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, said they will vote against certain state voters unless Congress appoints an election commission to immediately conduct an audit of the election results. They acknowledged that the election results are unlikely to change.

“We intend to vote on January 6 to reject the voters of the disputed states as not ‘regularly delivered’ and ‘legally certified’ (the legal requirement), unless and until the emergency audit of 10 days, “they wrote in the statement. .

“We do not take this action lightly,” they said.

President Donald Trump listens during an event in the White House meeting room in Washington. (AP)

The next few days are expected to do little to change the outcome. Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated on January 20 after winning Electoral College vote 306-232.

Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri was the first to challenge McConnell by announcing that he would join House Republicans in opposing the state counts during Wednesday’s joint session of Congress.

On the other side of the party divide, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska warned that such challenges are a “dangerous tactic” that threatens the nation’s civic norms.

The problem is forcing Republicans to make decisions that will shape the contours of the post-Trump era and an evolving Republican Party.

Ted Cruz during his RNC speech.  (AP)
Ted Cruz during his RNC speech. (AP)

Caught in the middle is Vice President Mike Pence, who faces mounting pressure and demand from Trump allies for his ceremonial role in presiding over the session Wednesday.

“I will not participate in a project to reverse the elections,” wrote Sasse in a lengthy post on social media. Sasse, a possible presidential contender in 2024, said he was “urging my colleagues to reject this dangerous ploy as well.”

Trump, the first president to lose a re-election bid in nearly 30 years, has attributed his defeat to widespread electoral fraud, despite the consensus of nonpartisan election officials that there was none. Of the 50 or so lawsuits that the president and his allies have presented challenging election results, nearly all have been dismissed or dropped. He also lost twice in the United States Supreme Court.

Still, the president has lobbied Republican senators to pursue their baseless charges despite the fact that the Electoral College has already cemented Biden’s victory and all that remains is the formal recognition of the count by Congress before the new president is sworn in.

“We are allowing people to vote for their conscience,” Senator John Thune, the second-ranked Republican, told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Thune’s comments as the Republican whip in charge of rounding the votes show that the Republican leadership is not putting its strength behind Trump’s demands, but allowing senators to choose their course. He pointed out the seriousness of questioning the outcome of the elections.

“This is a problem that has incredible consequences, it is incredibly rare historically and it sets a precedent,” he said.

“This is a great vote. They’re thinking about it. “

Pence will be watched closely as he presides over what is usually a routine vote recount in Congress, but is now headed for a protracted showdown that could last into Wednesday night, depending on how many challenges present themselves.

The vice president is being sued by a group of Republicans who want Pence to have the power to override the election results by eliminating an 1887 law that details how Congress handles the counting of votes.

Trump’s own Justice Department may have complicated what is already a highly unlikely effort to change the ritual account. He asked a federal judge to dismiss the last gasp lawsuit of Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and a group of Republican voters from Arizona seeking to force Pence out of the mere ceremony and shape the outcome of the vote.

In a court filing in Texas, the department said they “have sued the wrong defendant” and that Pence should not be the target of legal action.

“A lawsuit to establish that the vice president has discretion over the charge, filed against the vice president, is a walking legal contradiction,” the department argues.

A Texas judge dismissed the lawsuit against Gohmert late Friday. US District Judge Jeremy Kernodle, appointed by Trump, wrote that the plaintiffs “allege an injury that is not quite traceable” to Pence, “and is unlikely to be repaired with the requested relief.”

To avoid a dramatic unraveling, McConnell called a conference call with Republican senators Thursday specifically to address the upcoming joint session and the logistics of counting the votes, according to several Republicans who were granted anonymity to discuss the private call.

The Republican leader deliberately asked Hawley to answer questions about his challenge to Biden’s victory, according to two of the Republicans.

But there was no response because Hawley did not show up, Republicans said.

His office did not respond to a request for comment.

Sen. Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, who recognized Biden’s victory and defended his state’s electoral systems as valid and accurate, spoke on the call, objecting to those who challenged Pennsylvania’s results and making it clear that he disagrees. with Hawley’s plan to contest the result. his office said in a statement.

McConnell had previously warned Republican senators not to participate in raising objections, saying it would be a terrible vote for his colleagues. In essence, legislators would be forced to choose between the will of the outgoing president and that of the voters.

Several Republicans have indicated that they are under pressure from voters at home to show that they are fighting for Trump in his unfounded campaign to stay in office.

Associated Press journalist Aamer Madhani in Chicago contributed to this report.

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