In perhaps the most telling sign that President Donald Trump’s Republican Party has acknowledged his loss, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) congratulated Joe Biden on the Senate floor on Tuesday, even as Trump continues to push conspiracy theories about election fraud.
“We have a president who will be sworn in on January 20th. The Electoral College has spoken,” McConnell said. “So today, I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden. The president-elect is no stranger to the Senate, and he’s devoted himself to public service for many years.” McConnell went on to add that he’s looking “forward to finishing out the last 36 days out strong with President Trump.”
McConnell also went on to praise Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (D-CA), his outgoing Senate colleague. “Beyond our differences, all Americans can take pride in that our nation has a female vice president-elect for the very first time,” he said.
McConnell was beaten to the punch overnight by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who also waited some six weeks after Election Day to congratulate Biden on his victory.
On Monday, electors cast their Electoral College votes for president, authorizing Biden’s victory. Immediately afterward, several of Trump’s top Senate allies—including Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mike Braun (R-IN)—began referring to Biden as “president-elect” for the first time.
The Senate Republican caucus has been seemingly more respectful to reality than their counterparts in the House, however. Last week, 126 House Republicans signed on to a Texas lawsuit looking to throw out votes in four states that Joe Biden carried; Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. While the Supreme Court quickly shot down the case, the House’s top two Republicans, Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, both signed on.
Trump, meanwhile, started off his Tuesday in his typical erratic fashion, retweeting calls to imprison Georgia’s Republican governor and secretary of state, as well as Ron Watkins, a former 8kun administrator and a top promoter of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
“President Trump… is a genuinely good man. He does not really like to fire people. I bet he dislikes putting people in jail, especially ‘Republicans,’” read a tweet from Lin Wood, one of Trump’s lawyers in his attempts to overturn the election’s results, himself a top QAnon proponent. “He gave @BrianKempGA & @GaSecofState every chance to get it right. They refused. They will soon be going to jail.”
Kemp and Raffensperger, both Republicans who Trump endorsed before their 2018 elections, had reportedly rebuffed requests from the president and GOP officials to overturn Biden’s more than 12,000-vote victory in the Peach State.
Trump’s attacks on Republican officials in Georgia could complicate the party’s efforts to win two Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, which could determine which party controls the chamber. Some Republicans—including Wood—have called to boycott voting for incumbent GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler if they do not back Trump’s conspiracies about a stolen election.
“Tremendous evidence pouring in on voter fraud. There has never been anything like this in our Country!” Trump tweeted, shortly after McConnell’s speech.