Ted Cruz (R) and John Kennedy (L) are among the 12 Republican Senators challenging the confirmation of Joe Biden as President-elect (Hannah McKay/AFP/Getty)

Vice President Mike Pence signals his support for the effort by 12 Republican Senators — and more than 140 GOP House members — refusing confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden.

Earlier on Saturday, 11 GOP Senators issued a joint statement joined Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who announced his refusal last week. They objected to Congress’ confirmation on Wednesday of Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College victory.

There are seven sitting Senators — Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Mike Braun of Indiana — and Senators-elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who take their seats on Sunday in the new Congress.

The statement and Pence’s endorsement back Donald Trump’s false and unsupported claims of voting fraud. Every state has certified results after verifying their accuracy, many through post-election audits or hand counts. The Department of Homeland Security has assessed the ballot as the “most secure” in US history, and Attorney General William Barr, Trump’s long-time political protector, refused to authorize an investigation before he resigned last month.

Attorneys for Trump and his allies lost 59 of 60 lawsuits, including two before the Supreme Court. Their only victory affected just a few hundred ballots in Pennsylvania.

Enabling Trump

In their statement, the Republican Senators did not give any evidence of voting irregularities, let alone fraud.

Instead, they cited poll results showing most Republicans, fed by Trump’s relentless disinformation, believe the election was “rigged”.

Rather than criticizing Trump, the Senators turned against the electoral system and implicitly rejected Biden as President-elect:

A fair and credible audit — conducted expeditiously and completed well before Jan. 20 — would dramatically improve Americans’ faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next president. We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it.

They acknowledged that their effort is unlikely to be succeed. While the objection of just one House member and one Senator will force a debate in each chamber and then a vote, Democrats have a majority in the House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders have tried to shut down the objections.

But on Saturday evening, Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short said the Vice President “shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election”.

The statement declared that Pence “welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people on Jan. 6th”.

See also At Least 140 GOP Legislators Will Refuse Confirmation of President-Elect Biden

Trump effused on Twitter about the 12 Republican Senators, “Our Country will love them for it! #StopTheSteal”

“Dispensing with Democracy”

A series of Republican and Democrat Senators denounced the move led by Cruz, who lost to Trump in the 2016 campaign for the GOP Presidential nomination.

Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska explained, “I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and that is what I will do January 6.”

Her GOP colleague Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania wrote, “A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders. The effort by Sens. Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the Rules Committee, said the effort is a “publicity stunt” is “an attempt to subvert the will of the voters”. She noted that hundreds of millions of votes had been “counted, recounted, litigatedm and state-certified”.

Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut went farther in his statement about the challenge to American democracy.

Earlier in the week, the second-ranking GOP Senator, John Thune of South Dakota, said the objection would fail “like a shot dog”. Trump responded by calling on Gov. Kristi Noem to defeat Thune in South Dakota’s 2022 Senate primary.

GOP Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska condemned a “dangerous ploy” to “disenfranchise millions of Americans”, with Hawley and other trying to further their political careers by playing to Trump’s “populist base”.

And yesterday, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, said, “I could never have imagined seeing these things in the greatest democracy in the world. Has ambition so eclipsed principle?”