Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated Democrat Joe Biden as president-elect on Tuesday, saying the Electoral College “has spoken.”
The backlash among conservative voters that support President Donald Trump was swift and overwhelming.
Lin Wood, a lawyer in Georgia that has filed several unsuccessful lawsuits on behalf of Trump, called for conservative voters to boycott Republicans in response to their half-hearted defense of the president.
I have been urging without success @KLoeffler & @sendavidperdue to demand @BrianKempGA order special session of legislature to investigate fraud & order new down ballot contest in GA.
I do NOT think GA Patriots should participate in a rigged election. Dems are already cheating. pic.twitter.com/A1qU5K5N0i
— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) December 14, 2020
Trump retweeted Wood early Tuesday, an apparent endorsement of the lawyers biting criticism of Georgia’s establishment GOP leadership.
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McConnell’s own statement, delivered in a speech on the Senate floor, ends weeks of silence over Trump’s 2020 election fight. It came a day after electors met and officially affirmed Biden’s election win.
“I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden,” McConnell said.
“Many of us had hoped the presidential election would yield a different result,” he said. “But our system of government has the processes to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20. The Electoral College has spoken.”
McConnell called Biden someone “who has devoted himself to public service for many years.” He also congratulated Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, saying “all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice president-elect for the very first time.”
While McConnell said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence “deserve our thanks” the longtime Kentucky lawmaker implied it was time for Republicans to move on.
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Voters vowed to punish establishment Republicans for turning their backs on the president by hitting them where it hurts — sitting out the upcoming Georgia special Senate runoff.
The Georgia race has already been decided.
People voting is just a formality.
Ask @BrianKempGA or @senatemajldr or @staceyabrams or @AmyMcGrathKY
They all know it's true. https://t.co/G85H9TT5Wh
— PlayTheTrumpCard ⚡️ Legal Votes Only Please (@PlaysTrumpCard) December 15, 2020
The strategy is a bold gamble in a growing fight over the future of the Republican Party.
For his part, Trump encouraged followers to continue the fight in a series of new tweets on Tuesday.
Of course, McConnell wasn’t alone. As the Electoral College voted on Monday, giving Biden a clear majority, more establishment Republicans began speaking up against Trump backers.
“At some point, you have to face the music,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the NO. 2 GOP leader. “Once the Electoral College settles the issue today, it’s time for everybody to move on.”
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Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the chairman of the inaugural committee, said the panel will now “deal with Vice President Biden as the president-elect.”
Voters said they were leaving the Republican Party in response —
After @senatemajldr betrayal of @realDonaldTrump I will also be leaving the @GOP . I will not be affiliated with a party of traitors
— OLD ARMY NURSE ❌ (@TKudia10) December 15, 2020
Some conservative lawmakers have responded to voter pushback.
They have vowed to carry the fight to Jan. 6 when Congress votes to accept or reject the Electoral College results. Others have said Trump’s legal battles should continue toward resolution by inauguration day, Jan. 20.
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“It’s a very, very narrow path for the president,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a top Trump ally. “But having said that, I think we’ll let those legal challenges play out.”
One House Republican, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, has vowed to challenge the Electoral College results when Congress convenes a joint session to receive the outcome.
At that time, any challenge in Congress would need to be raised by at least one member of the House and Senate. It’s unclear if any GOP senator will join in making the case.
Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., introduced a resolution in Congress last week suggesting no one be declared president-elect until all investigations are completed. He proposed it after constituents confronted him last month demanding he do more to support Trump.
But it currently appears highly unlikely there is enough establishment Republican support to overturn the election.
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The Associated Press contributed to this article