Republicans Backing Trump Fraud Claims Even As Biden Wins Electoral College

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With the Electoral College giving its archaic but official stamp of approval to Joe Biden, the election is now over–although it’s not over, and may never be over, for a major chunk of the country.

With a unanimous rejection by the Supreme Court, with President Trump unable to break his legal losing streak, he is continuing to assail what he calls a rigged election. And 77 percent of his voters agree the election was stolen from him, according to a new Fox News poll.

And yet there is a deep divide within conservative media, and the movement itself, over whether the time has come to move on from Trumpism or embrace its leader in a reinvented resistance for the next four years.


Most of the media, from National Review on the right to the Atlantic on the left, described the Texas lawsuit aimed at reversing the election results as an absurd long shot that would be tossed out by the high court. They were attacked as being anti-Trump, but their assessments were grounded in reality. 

The court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, with a third of its members Trump appointees, unanimously refused to take the case (two justices thought it should be technically accepted but denied on the merits). 

The president’s response was to attack the ruling as disgraceful and to complain that he didn’t get his day in court. Actually, he got his court hearing, with the justices deciding that one state didn’t have the standing to challenge the election processes in other states. Trump just didn’t like the outcome.

What is bringing thunderous media condemnation is that this prayer of a lawsuit was backed by 17 other Republican attorneys general, and by 106 GOP members of the House. Fairly or unfairly, the journalistic consensus is that they are acting out of fear that Trump might denounce them or engineer a primary challenge against them. After all, he’s slamming two Republican governors RINOs, just because Georgia’s Brian Kemp and Arizona’s Doug Ducey defended the election process in their states.  

With the Electoral College cementing Biden’s victory, some conservatives sympathetic to Trump are giving him some tough advice.

Wall Street Journal editorial page: “President Trump’s legal challenges have run their course, and he and the rest of the Republican Party can help the country and themselves by acknowledging the result and moving on.”

Longtime Trump ally Chris Christie on ABC: “The legal theory put forward by his legal team and by the president is an absurdity. And the reason why the Supreme Court didn’t take it is because it’s an absurd idea to think that any state, or any number of states, no matter how good they are, can challenge another state’s right to run the election as they see fit. And also there’s no evidence.”

Fox commentator and former Bush White House official Karl Rove: “I think in the long run he’s not helping himself or the country. America likes comebacks, but they don’t like sore losers and he is on the edge of looking like a sore loser, and probably will look like it after January 6th.”

That’s a reference to the day that Congress has to accept the Electoral College results. Some Republicans are planning to mount a challenge to electors in key states–a few Democrats did this as a protest in 2017–but with Nancy Pelosi running the House, there’s no chance both chambers, as required, will block a Biden certification.

But what will be the lasting impact of Trump’s war on the 2020 election? New York Times columnist Ross Douthat says some Republicans are cultivating “a politics of partisan fantasy” that exists alongside the real thing.


On one side he sees Republicans acting “normally,” the ones who have actual political and legal roles, such as those certifying the outcome in Georgia and Arizona. On the other side, the Republicans behaving “radically” believe “their behavior is performative, an act of storytelling rather than lawmaking, a posture rather than a political act.”

In other words, there’s no real cost to House Republicans or state AGs backing Trump’s election fraud claims for partisan reasons, as it won’t change a single court ruling or Electoral College reality.

But I disagree on this point. If tens of millions of Republicans believe Joe Biden is an illegitimate president–Trump actually used that phrase–it could well damage his administration. And at a deeper level, if much of one political party believes an election is being stolen–and next time it could be the Democrats–that seriously damages democracy.

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