WASHINGTON (CN) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in a speech Monday, instead throwing his support behind President Donald Trump’s legal efforts to contest his election loss.
In the Kentucky Republican’s first remarks from the Senate floor after winning his reelection with more than 57% of the Bluegrass State’s vote, McConnell said no states have certified their presidential election results yet. Recounts in place like Georgia, where Biden leads Trump by 11,000 votes, and Wisconsin, where Biden won by more than 20,000 votes, are likely, he noted.
“In the United States of America, all legal ballots must be counted. Any illegal ballots must not be. The process should be transparent or observable by all sides and the courts are here to work through concerns,” McConnell said.
Evidence so far has shown that both Democrats and Republicans have had adequate access to ballot counting processes. In a hearing before U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond last Friday, Trump campaign attorneys conceded that Republicans had “a nonzero number” of people watching ballots be counted in Philadelphia.
“I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?” asked Diamond, before approving a deal for 60 observers from each party to watch the counting process.
McConnell said Monday that Trump’s legal challenges will reaffirm confidence in the integrity of America’s electoral system.
“If any major irregularities occurred this time, of a magnitude that would affect the outcome, then every single American should want them to be brought to light,” he said. “And if Democrats feel confident they have not occurred, they should have no reason to fear any extra scrutiny.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer acknowledged some vote tabulations are not yet complete and two runoffs in Georgia are still yet to determine control of the Senate. But the New York Democrat said come January, the country will turn the page on “one of the most divisive and chaotic chapters in our nation’s history” with Biden’s inauguration.
Rhetoric that Biden had stolen the election or there were instances of widespread voter fraud is poisonous to American democracy, Schumer said. While Trump has a legal right to file challenges in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania and other states, he said those challenges need to be based in fact.
“Make no mistake, there has been no evidence of any significant or widespread voter fraud,” Schumer said. “Joe Biden won this election fair and square.”
Noting former President George W. Bush has congratulated Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory, Schumer said current Republican leaders in Congress should follow suit.
“Republican leaders must unequivocally condemn the president’s rhetoric and work to ensure the peaceful transition of power on Jan. 20,” he said. “I have been heartened to see a few of my Republican colleagues – it’s three, I believe – congratulate the winning ticket. But too many, including the Republican leader, have been silent or sympathetic to the president’s fantasies.”
McConnell also claimed during his floor speech that the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Senate had “spent four years supporting the state and local election authorities on the front lines.” However, the issue of bolstering security measures for the 2020 election was a sticking point between the parties during Covid-19 relief negotiations this summer, with Republicans pushing back on extra funding for state and local governments.
The GOP leader also said the presidential race was free of foreign interference.
“There is no suggestion that our foreign adversaries were allowed to undermine the integrity of this process,” McConnell said.