Even after a violent right-wing mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, some Republicans are still backing President Trump’s attempts to toss out the 2020 election.
As the House and Senate reconvened Wednesday, a number of key Republicans who survived the lawless siege returned to leading Trump’s charge to overturn the 2020 election results and oppose the certification of a number of states that were won by president-elect Joe Biden.
Six Senate Republicans voted to block Arizona’s electoral votes from counting, including 2024 presidential hopefuls Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas. They were joined by a majority of House Republicans—including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
Seven other Senate Republicans who had said they would vote to block changed their minds after the day’s violence.
Hawley, who along with Cruz was the ringleader of the bad-faith coup attempt, took to the Senate floor and tried to use the day’s unprecedented mob violence, where a pro-Trump mob mauraded through Congress after attacking Capitol police, as a reason to oppose certifying Biden’s win.
“For those who have concerns about the integrity of our elections, those who have concerns about what happened in November, this is the appropriate place, this is the lawful place where those objections and concerns should be heard,” Hawley managed to say with a straight face.
Others stuck by him, claiming they only wanted an investigation into voter fraud that dozens of courts found did not occur in the election while refusing to acknowledge their vote was to block states’ electors from being counted for president.
“I rise today to restore integrity to our republic,” newly elected Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall said. “We must restore faith and confidence in one of our Republic's most held patriotic duties: voting.”
Dozens of House Republicans and a handful of other senators including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz stood with them.
Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, one of the ringleaders of the coup caucus in the House, promised he’d do the same—while claiming it was “leftist violence” that overran the U.S. Capitol and endangered the lives of members of Congress. He must have missed all the MAGA hats and QAnon t-shirts—or that Trump himself hadn’t just rallied thousands of supporters he’d summoned to Washington claiming that the election had been stolen, then ordered them to protest at the Capitol.
Freshman Sens. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Roger Marshall of Kansas, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi joined Cruz and Hawley in refusing to accept Trump’s loss, as did more than 120 House Republicans. The coup caucus lost a many GOP members, however, with Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Montana Sen. Steve Daines and Indiana Sen. Mike Braun reversing themselves after the day’s violence, followed by Oklahoma’s James Lankford, Tennessee’s Bill Hagerty, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson and Wyoming’s Cynthia Lummis.
“When I arrived in Washington this morning I fully intended to object to the certification electoral vote,” Loeffler said on the Senate floor Wednesday night. “The events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider. And I cannot now in good conscience object to the certification of these electors," Loeffler said.
Loeffler’s move was far from a profile in courage. She just lost her election on Tuesday after echoing Trump’s lies that Georgia’s election had been stolen from him for two months. As recently as Monday, she was onstage with Trump egging on his coup attempt as she boasted she’d vote against certifying Biden’s victory in Georgia and other states. She has yet to concede her own race, and has insinuated there might have been illegal voting in her own election.
But at least she didn’t continue on with a dangerous attempt at a legal coup that, while bound to fail, risks encouraging further insurrectionist violence before Biden’s inauguration in two weeks.
Plenty of Republicans were crystal clear about what their GOP colleagues were abetting.
“I will not be voting to reject the electors and that vote may well sign my political death warrant, but so be it,” said Texas GOP Rep. Chip Roy, Cruz’s old chief of staff. "History will judge this moment. Let us not turn the last firewall for liberty we have remaining on its head in a fit of populist rage for political expediency."
“What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the President of the United States,” said Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney. “Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate Democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.”