The top Republican in Congress told colleagues during a recent call that he wouldn’t judge them for objecting to Electoral College votes, according to a senator who was on the call.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told senators that “this is a very difficult decision for each one of you, you each have to make it yourselves,” recounted Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) to Politico.
“‘I’ve voted twice on declarations of war.’ And he said, ‘This is right up there. But … there’s a lot of noise out there and I won’t judge anybody for their decision,’” Cramer added.
That’s in contrast to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who has voiced support for the objections.
“I think it’s right that we have the debate. I mean, you see now that senators are going to object, the House is going to object—how else do we have a way to change the election problems?” McCarthy recently told The Hill.
Thirteen senators in McConnell’s caucus plan on objecting to votes during Wednesday’s joint session, but some 27 have said they will not, including most members of the body’s GOP leadership.
Cramer, a businessman who won office with President Donald Trump’s support in the 2018 midterms, said Monday he wouldn’t object, saying he shared concerns about election irregularities but “the Founding Fathers did not design a system where the federal legislative branch could reject a state’s certified choice for president in favor of their own.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has also spoken about what McConnell said during the recent call. He told reporters that McConnell said the vote on certifying the election was “the most consequential vote.”
McConnell told a press conference last month that “the decision by the Electoral College yesterday was determinative.” Electors met in their states on Dec. 14 and cast ballots based on the popular vote results in their states. Seven slates cast a ballot for Trump even though Democratic electors chose Biden because the latter was certified the winner.
Other members of the Senate GOP leadership have been more dismissive in public of attempts to object.
“The thing they’ve got to remember is, it’s just not going anywhere. I mean, in the Senate it would go down like a shot dog,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the Senate Majority Whip, told reporters.
The senators who object say they’re doing so because states didn’t follow their own election laws in conducting the election and because there are widespread concerns among Republican voters about possible or proven election and voter fraud.
A group of 11 senators called for the establishment of an electoral commission that would examine alleged irregularities. If such a commission isn’t established—it hasn’t been—then they said they’d vote to object.
“We intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed,” the senators wrote in a joint statement last week.
“We’ve got tens of millions of Americans that think this election was stolen,” Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “We need to get the bottom of it.”