President-elect Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in rally for Georgia Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, in Atlanta. The first full week of 2021 is shaping up to be one of the biggest of Biden’s presidency. And he hasn’t even taken office yet. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in rally for Georgia Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, in Atlanta. The first full week of 2021 is shaping up to be one of the biggest of Biden’s presidency. And he hasn’t even taken office yet. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Murkowski, Sullivan share plan to affirm election results

Senators share thoughts ahead of unlikely flashpoint procedure.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is part of a bipartisan group of senators who say they’ll affirm the results of the 2020 election on Wednesday.

Murkowski, a Republican, and nine other senators stated Sunday they will not seek to overturn results that saw former Vice President Joe Biden win both the popular and electoral vote.

“The 2020 election is over,” the senators said in a statement. “All challenges through recounts and appeals have been exhausted. At this point, further attempts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential election are contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people and only serve to undermine Americans’ confidence in the already determined election results. The voters have spoken, and Congress must now fulfill its responsibility to certify the election results. In two weeks, we will begin working with our colleagues and the new Administration on bipartisan, common-sense solutions to the enormous challenges facing our country. It is time to move forward.”

[State announces support for Texas-led election lawsuit]

In addition to Murkowski, the statement was signed by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Mark Warner, D-Va.; Bill Cassidy, R-La; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Angus King, I-Maine; Mitt Romney, R-Utah; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H. and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

The joint statement came a day after Murkowski issued a solo statement saying she would vote to affirm the results of the election.

“I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and that is what I will do January 6,” she said in her statement. “The courts and state legislatures have all honored their duty to hear legal allegations and have found nothing to warrant overturning the results. I urge my colleagues from both parties to recognize this and to join me in maintaining confidence in the Electoral College and our elections so that we ensure we have the continued trust of the American people.”

Alaska’s other Republican Senator, Dan Sullivan, didn’t join the Jan. 3, statement but has previously said he will vote to affirm the election. In an email Monday, Sullivan spokesperson Michael Soukop pointed to a Dec. 14, 2020, statement from Sullivan in which Sullivan said he would affirm the election.

“In accordance with the Constitution and federal law, the Electoral College met today and the electors cast their ballots, determining that former Vice President Joe Biden is now the president-elect,” Sullivan’s statement said. “This is not the result that I, and the majority of Alaska voters who supported President Trump, had hoped for. But ultimately as a U.S. Senator, my oath and fidelity are to the Constitution and the laws of our nation, which include the orderly transfer of power—one of the most sacred elements of our great constitutional republic—and the Electoral College process that took place today.”

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President Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, the results of the 2020 election were fraudulent and a small number of Republican lawmakers have said they will contest the results of the election in Congress.

The typically procedural certification is now a battle as some Republicans, eager to satisfy President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, say they won’t certify the results of a free and fair election. Others in the GOP are warning that such moves are destructive.

There was no widespread fraud in the election, which a range of election officials across the country, as well as Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have confirmed. Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia, key battleground states crucial to Biden’s victory, have vouched for the integrity of the elections in their states. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two tossed by the Supreme Court, where three Trump-nominated justices preside.

Yet following the president’s lead, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced a coalition of 11 senators and senators-elect who will join an effort to attempt to subvert American voters during Electoral College certification, joining House Republicans who have already pledged similar.

Wednesday’s congressional count is the final step in reaffirming Biden’s win, after the Electoral College officially elected him 306-232 last month. That’s the same margin Trump won by in 2016.

The constitutionally required meeting is normally a formality. Yet Cruz and the other Republicans, some of whom have their own White House ambitions, the AP said, say they’ll vote against certain state electors unless Congress appoints a commission to immediately audit the election results.

Republicans won’t succeed in blocking the results. Challenges would have to be passed by the full Senate and Democrat-controlled House. But simply pledging to do so shows there are few boundaries for prominent Republicans aiming to demonstrate loyalty to Trump.

The last-ditch effort could impress Trump’s base, a boost for Cruz and other Republicans thought to be preparing 2024 presidential runs. It’s also provoking a heated battle within the GOP.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 who has broken with his party before, called the tactic an “egregious ploy” that “may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic,” the AP reported. Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring, called out Cruz by name and said the Texan and other fellow Republican senators were undermining “a fundamental, defining feature” of American democracy, AP said. Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, said he opposed the idea of Congress overturning the results of the Electoral College and thus exceeding its power and establishing “unwise precedents.”

The moment is especially awkward for Vice President Mike Pence, in his role as president of the Senate, he presides over Wednesday’s proceedings and will ultimately declare Biden’s victory.

Previous vice presidents, including Richard Nixon and Al Gore, have played similar roles after tough presidential campaigns. But Pence, who may seek the White House in 2024, is seeking to avoid angering Trump and his base. He signaled support for the GOP’s certification challenge over the weekend.

Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire. The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.

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