Washington: When Kamala Harris returned to the Senate this week for the first time as vice president-elect, her Republican colleagues offered their congratulations and Sen. Lindsey Graham greeted her with a fist bump.
It was a sign that many Republicans have privately acknowledged what they refuse to say openly: Democrat Joe Biden and Harris won the election and will take office in January.
The GOP’s public silence on the reality of Biden’s victory amounts to tacit approval of Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud. That has significant repercussions, delaying the transition during a deadly pandemic, sowing public doubt and endangering Biden’s ability to lead the portion of the country that may question his legitimacy, reports Associated Press.
Yet, Republicans’ efforts to maintain a public face of support for the president began to deteriorate on Wednesday.
Backroom whispers about the futility of Trump’s legal fight have become louder after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared in a Pennsylvania courtroom making wide and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in seeking to undo the election results. Asked about the case, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said, “Let me just say, I don’t think they have a strong case.”
And when White House chief of staff Mark Meadows visited with Senate Republicans, he encouraged them to “make the most” of their remaining time with Trump, according to two senators.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the message from Meadows was “basically just that we got about 45 days left of the president’s term.”
Despite the private admissions, there has been no public effort to nudge Trump toward the exit.
Trump has declined to concede the presidential race and is mounting legal fights in several states, but there has been no indication or evidence of voter irregularities or widespread fraud in the election. The Trump-appointed head of the General Services Administration has held off on formally beginning the Biden transition to the White House, slowing the incoming administration’s ability to prepare to grapple with a worsening pandemic that has already killed 250,000 Americans.
Trump’s refusal to accept the results means the election disputes could drag on for weeks as states certify their tallies or push to mid-December, when the Electoral College is set to vote. And baseless claims about election fraud have filled conservative media without any rebuttal from Republicans, potentially undermining the Biden presidency before it even begins.
A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed that while 95% of Democrats believe the election was “fair and square,” only 18% of Republicans do, while 70% of GOP voters believe some voter fraud took place.
A sense of paralysis has set in at the White House.
The West Wing has been hollowed out. The president has remained in the Oval Office well into the night but has stayed out of the public eye, tweeting baseless claims while largely giving up on governing and not taking a single question from a reporter since Election Day.