A ridiculous announcement by a high-profile Republican senator just set the stage for some very silly political antics on Jan. 6.
That’s because Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri publicly promised on Wednesday to object during the certification of Electoral College votes during the official tally in a special joint session of Congress.
Legal experts say any challenge to the count, which will put the final seal on President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, is doomed to fail. But the rules, which are spelled out in law, say the two chambers are supposed to engage in simultaneous two-hour debates over any objection formally submitted in writing by both a House member and a senator.
A handful of extra-Trumpy members of the House were already openly promising to object, but Hawley has now officially set the stage for what could be several rounds of absurd political theater. Legal experts say none of these antics will overturn the election results, but debate will probably get heated anyway.
In fact, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had reportedly urged his fellow Republican senators not to support any objections raised by House members—it will force Republicans into the awkward position of either supporting Trump or admitting that his voter fraud claims are bogus. There doesn’t appear to be a majority in the Senate that will back Trump, so the chamber appears poised to officially slap down his theories if it entertains an objection.
President Trump has claimed he’s the victim of extensive voter fraud over the past several weeks despite a lack of evidence and a deluge of failed lawsuits filed on his behalf. Even Trump’s former attorney general, Bill Barr, openly contradicted President Trump by saying he hadn’t seen the kind of widespread fraud that would have cost Trump the election.
Hawley didn’t indicate in his statement that he’s actually going to try to flip the election result and install Trump for four more years. Instead, he suggested his move would be more like a gesture of protest aimed at prompting investigations and boosting election security.
“At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections,” Hawley wrote in his statement posted to Twitter.
Hawley’s announcement could be viewed as a move to improve his future political prospects by currying favor among Trump fans and cynically casting himself as a true believer in Trump’s bogus voter-fraud fantasy.
An NPR/NewsHour survey conducted earlier this month found that only a quarter of Republicans trust the results of the 2020 election.