Drip by drip, US Republicans edge away from Trump election claims

US President Donald Trump gestures as his motorcade leaves the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia November 22, 2020. ― Reuters pic
US President Donald Trump gestures as his motorcade leaves the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia November 22, 2020. ― Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, Nov 24 ― More prominent Republicans joined the call yesterday for President Donald Trump to end efforts to overturn his election defeat and allow President-elect Joe Biden to begin the transition to a new administration.

Twenty days after Election Day, most members of Trump's party still refused yesterday to refer to Biden as president-elect, or question Trump's insistence ― without evidence ― that he only lost on November 3 because of fraud.

Trump's legal team has suffered a string of judicial defeats in its bid to prevent states from certifying Biden as the presidential election winner, and legal experts say the remaining cases do not give Trump a viable path to overturning the election results.

Republican Senator Shelly Moore Capito, who represents West Virginia, which overwhelmingly backed Trump, issued a statement saying there was no indication that any election irregularities were widespread enough to call Biden's victory into question.

Republican Senator Rob Portman ― co-chairman of Trump's campaign in Ohio who rarely breaks with party leaders - said there was no evidence of widespread election fraud and called for the transition to begin.

“It is now time to expeditiously resolve any outstanding questions and move forward,” Portman wrote in a Cincinnati Enquirer opinion column yesterday.

However, Portman did not refer to Biden as “president-elect” and referred to his becoming the next president as a “likely event.” Capito also did not refer to Biden as president-elect.

Senator Lamar Alexander, who is retiring from his Tennessee Senate seat at the end of the year, called on Trump to “put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition to help the new administration succeed.”

In a statement issued after Michigan certified its election results in a blow to Trump's efforts to overturn the election, Alexander said, “When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do.”

Calls for Trump to accept defeat have been stronger outside Washington, even from some of his staunchest supporters, including former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who called Trump's behavior “a national embarrassment” in an interview on ABC.

And more than 100 former Republican national security officials published a letter yesterday asking that party leaders denounce Trump's refusal to concede, calling it a dangerous assault on democracy and national security. ― Reuters

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