NBC News - Nearly a dozen Republican senators and senators-elect on Saturday demanded a commission to audit the results of the 2020 election, and said they would otherwise object to the Electoral College votes that declared President-elect Joe Biden the winner.
Though there is no evidence of any fraud in the election, the group of lawmakers said in a statement that they were calling on Congress to create a "full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states."
If such a panel is not established, the group threatened on Jan. 6 when both chambers meet "to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed."
With the House in Democratic hands, there is no chance the rejection will have any effect on the outcome, and Biden will still be sworn in on Jan. 20. But the action by Republicans in both chambers will prolong the debate over certification until the final votes are taken in Congress.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Mike Braun of Indiana signed on to the statement on Saturday, as well as Senators-elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
The senators stopped short in their statement of saying that they would bring forward a vote to object to the results.
An objection is not considered unless it is in writing and signed by both a member of the House and a member of the Senate. For the objection to be sustained, both chambers must vote for it by a simple majority. If the chambers do not both agree, then the original electoral votes are counted.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who will be be one of four lawmakers who participates in the tallying of electoral votes as the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, criticized the Republicans' move as a "publicity stunt."
"It is undemocratic. It is un-American. And fortunately it will be unsuccessful. In the end, democracy will prevail."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Senate Republicans that a vote on objections would be "the most consequential vote" of his career, and he has been encouraging his Republican conference to not join these objections.
The announcement Saturday came after Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., on Wednesday became the first senator to say he would object to the certification of some states' Electoral College results, forcing other Republicans to vote on whether to reject President Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud in this year's election or disenfranchise millions of voters.
Trump has lashed out at members of his party who have failed to back up his outlandish claims of fraud and has called for the resignation of local GOP officials who have refused to overturn their state's results. The president has not yet commented on the latest development, but his campaign tweeted a message of thanks to the senators.