• Michael McAuliff

Mitch McConnell Closes Out Trump's Last Hope

If the Electoral College's certification of Joe Biden's win wasn't enough to convince President Trump that he lost, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled Tuesday that Trump stands no chance challenging the results in the U.S. Senate.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

McConnell did that by taking to the floor of the upper chamber of Congress to declare Joe Biden the winner.


"Our country has, officially, a president-elect and a vice president-elect," McConnell said, after first sugar-coating his words with glowing praise for Trump's presidency.


"Many millions of us had hoped the presidential election would yield a different result," McConnell said, adding, however, that "Our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on January the 20th. The Electoral College has spoken. So, today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden."


He acknowledged Kamala Harris, as well.


"I also want to congratulate the Vice President-elect, our colleague from California, Sen. Harris," McConnell said. "Beyond our differences, all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female Vice President-elect for the very first time."


McConnell's declaration closes out hope for Trump and his all-but universally defeated election challenge because it means the last constitutional lever he can use is out of his reach.


Members of Congress can challenge the Electoral College results on Jan. 6 when they are to be accepted by Congress. But the Democratic-controlled House certainly will not go along when a few Republicans there raise objections. With McConnell closing that path in the Senate, there is no path at all.


Democrats were pleased to hear McConnell's words, but still pointed out that it took an unprecedented amount of time for most of the GOP to embrace an election that Biden won by a greater margin than Trump did four years earlier.


Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat in the chamber, noted in a floor speech that just 26 Republicans in Congress had acknowledged Biden's win, even as Trump lost more than 50 challenges in courts and Biden won 7 million more votes.


"The fact that it took six weeks for my colleagues to recognize reality and stop undermining our democratic process is sad and disappointing," Durbin said, raising the point that such refusal in the face of an obvious result is the kind of thing that erodes trust in the democratic system.


He reminded his colleagues that they all took an oath to "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic," repeating the last words with emphasis on "domestic."


"It's not an oath to one person or one president. It's not conditional," Durbin said. "Yet, with the exception of only a few in this Senate chamber, the silence in upholding this oath in the face of President Trump's blatant attempts to undermine our democracy has been overwhelming."


He compared it to when established leaders in Venezuela stood by Hugo Chavez after his coup attempt in 1992, lending him vital legitimacy for his subsequent rise to power. "We have such a moment here that demands leaders of both parties to carry out their oaths of office, and defend our treasured democracy," Durbin said. "Silence is unacceptable. I'm glad for what Sen. McConnell said this morning."


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer added that he hopes Trump and Trump's loyalists take McConnell's words to heart.


"It's time to end his term with a modicum of grace and dignity -- qualities that his predecessors took great pains to display during our grand tradition of a peaceful transfer of power."


"Enough is enough," Schumer said.