President Donald Trump hosted several House Republican lawmakers at the White House on Monday to discuss a longshot effort to block Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s victory in the November election, which would make Biden officially the President-elect.
Biden would be sworn in as president on Jan. 20.
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With no serious legal options remaining after the Electoral College confirmed their votes for Biden earlier this month, Trump is turning his attention to a Jan. 6 showdown between his most loyal allies and establishment Republicans and Democrats.
That’s when Congress participates in an official count of the electoral votes, which Biden won 306-232.
The count, required by the Constitution, is generally a formality. But members can use the event to object to a state’s votes.
The last time a result was objected was in 2005, when Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California — both Democrats — objected to Ohio’s electoral votes by claiming there were voting irregularities. Both chambers debated the objection and rejected it. It was only the second time such a vote had occurred.
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said he organized Monday’s session with about a dozen House Republicans who are willing to challenge the results.
“President Trump is very supportive of our effort,” Brooks said in an interview late Monday.
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With Democrats holding the House majority and several Republican senators now acknowledging Biden’s victory, any effort to block congressional approval of the election appears sure to fail.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., has warned his members against taking such a step.
Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican from South Dakota, urged lawmakers to remember that an effort to block the election results in Congress was “just not going anywhere.”
“I mean, in the Senate, it would go down like a shot dog,” Thune told CNN. “I just don’t think that it makes a lot of sense to put everybody through this when you know what the ultimate outcome is gonna be.”
Still, Trump has continued to push for congressional intervention.
Brooks said Monday’s White House meeting was originally scheduled for about an hour, but lasted for three hours, with Trump participating for much of it.
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Other attendees included Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who has spent the weeks since the election hosting press conferences… but doing little to advance Trump’s cause in the courtroom, much to the frustration of Trump’s most loyal supporters.
Giuliani and his team have filed roughly 50 lawsuits challenging the election results but have lost repeatedly or seen their cases thrown out by judges.
Brooks said he also met with Vice President Mike Pence. As president of the Senate, Pence is to preside over the Jan. 6 session and declare the winner.
Brooks said the group is making plans to challenge the election results from Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada, all battleground states that certified their Electoral College votes for Biden. Brooks in particular has raised questions about the way state elections were conducted this year, with some having made changes to ballots and procedures during the pandemic.
Attorney General William Barr distanced himself from the White House’s claims on Monday. He said he saw no reason to appoint a special counsel to look into the president’s claims about the 2020 election. Trump has discussed doing so with some of his advisers.
On Jan. 6, a lawmaker can object to a state’s votes on any grounds. The objection will not be heard unless it is in writing and signed by both a member of the House and a member of the Senate.
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If there is such a joint request, then the joint session suspends and the House and Senate go into separate sessions to consider it. For the objection to be sustained, both chambers must agree to it by a simple majority vote. If they disagree, the original electoral votes are counted.
McConnell has told Senate Republicans that a dispute over the results in January would yield a “terrible vote” for Republicans. They would have to choose whether to back Trump or publicly buck him.
The Associated Press contributed to this article