• Michael McAuliff

Republicans Rip Josh Hawley's 'Dangerous' Challenge To Biden's Win

Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley's plan to object to the 2020 Electoral College results is not going over well with most of his fellow Republicans, some of whom see it as a "dangerous" threat to democracy.


Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)

Most said he has the right to raise his objections, even if they are bogus.


"I don't agree with him," Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) told reporters on Capitol Hill during a rare New Year's Day session Friday..


But many also said it was harmful to challenge the results when President-elect Joe Biden is certified as the victor by Congress on Jan. 6.


"It continues to spread the false rumor that somehow the election was stolen," Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told reporters.


Romney, who lost his election big against President Obama in 2012, said he spoke from experience when arguing the challenge was a bad idea.


"I know what it's like to lose, and there were people that said, 'There are irregularities.' I have people today who say, 'Hey, you know what? You really won.' but I didn't. I lost fair and square," Romney said. "Of course there were irregularities. There always are. But spreading this kind of rumor about our election system not working is dangerous for democracy, here and abroad."


Romney's words put him in line with Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, who argued in a Facebook post that Hawley and others mounting the challenge are "institutional arsonist members" who would point "a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government."


About 140 Republicans in the House intend to challenge Biden's win.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his caucus Thursday that the vote next week to certify Biden's win will be the most consequential of his career, though he apparently has not demanded that anyone follow his lead or that of the other party leaders who agree Biden won.


Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the Senate majority whip who angered President Trump by saying Hawley's effort will be shot down like a dog, said leaders were leaving it up to members.


"We are letting people vote their conscience," Thune said. "This is an issue that's incredibly consequential, incredibly rare historically and very precedent-setting... Obviously, I think I know where things are headed but we'll have that discussion next week on the floor and then ultimately the vote."


It was unclear if even a handful of Republicans in the Senate would join with Hawley, with speculation focusing on members who are up for reelection in 2022 and could face Trump-inspired primary challenges.


Adding fuel to that speculation, Trump tweeted angrily at Thune Friday, saying South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem should take on Thune.


Thune just laughed it off.


"Well, finally an attack tweet! What took him so long?" Thune said to chuckles, adding that he hasn't reached out to Trump.


"I’m not sure what I did to be deserving of all that, but that's fine," Thune said. "I'm not sure that anything changes his mind once he makes it up."


Other Republicans defended their No. 2.


“I personally find it very dispiriting at this time, New Year’s Day, that the president would be working to pit Republicans against Republicans," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). “I would like to think that he would recognize that it’s good and it’s important that the Republican leadership team -- that has helped deliver so much for his administration -- that he would recognize the good, and certainly the good that Sen. Thune has led.”


She also ripped Trump for lacking any loyalty to his party.


“I think it’s quite interesting that he has demanded a loyalty test from so many Republicans, and then when they are loyal to him and there is one incident, one statement, and he is the first one to throw those loyal individuals under the bus. That’s not loyalty," Murkowski said.


For his part, Hawley did not seem to believe his bid would succeed, but he said he would do it anyway because so many Republicans in Missouri believe the president's false claims that the election was stolen.


"I don't have any power to overturn anything," Hawley told reporters.


"I don't have any standing to file lawsuits, and I'm not a prosecutor anymore. I don't have any standing to do investigations," Hawley said. "In this process, this is the only opportunity that I have to be heard and to speak up on behalf of my constituents."