WASHINGTON—Leading Wisconsin Republicans are agreeing with President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen from him, and backing legal challenges to voting results in states won by President-elect Joe Biden.
“There’s nothing to congratulate him about,” Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin told reporters on Tuesday when asked if he had congratulated Biden on his win, according to a Capitol pool report.
The Associated Press called Biden the winner on Saturday after the Democratic nominee gained the more than 270 electoral college votes needed to declare victory. Meanwhile, Trump has falsely said he won the election.
“It’s not the media that determines who the president is,” Johnson said, referring to the AP calling the race for Biden.
The Trump administration has not announced any transition plans to usher in a new presidency. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former congressman from Kansas, has said that there will be a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” and insisted that the presidential election has not been decided.
Wisconsin Republicans including former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who also served as Trump’s chief of staff, and former Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy also said they support the president’s efforts to file lawsuits alleging voter fraud.
“I think that until the recount takes place and until all these (legal) challenges are heard, you’re not going to hear it,” Priebus said about the president congratulating Biden on his win, during an interview with CBS on Monday.
Duffy has also supported Trump’s request for a recount in Wisconsin, a state that Biden won.
“All legal votes should be counted and all credible claims of fraud should be investigated,” Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin tweeted Friday. “Fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and their integrity must be protected.”
Reps. Bryan Steil and Glenn Grothman also echoed those arguments that “legal votes” should be counted.
“President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said.
While Republican lawmakers stick with the president, world leaders including Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, among others, have acknowledged Biden as the president-elect and are setting up meetings with him.
Many senators have also called for waiting until all states have finished counting votes.
GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri refused to accept that media outlets called the race and said that the outcome wouldn’t be known until Dec. 14, which is the deadline for electors in the states to cast their votes.
“The president wasn’t defeated by huge numbers. In fact, he may not have been defeated at all,” Blunt said to reporters on Tuesday, according to a Capitol pool report.
Only five Senate Republicans have publicly acknowledged that Biden is the president-elect.
Those include Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
“Presidential transitions are important, and the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect should be given every opportunity to ensure that they are ready to govern on January 20th,” Collins said in a statement.
Democrats are also pushing back, criticizing Republicans for entertaining the president’s lawsuits and remarks about voter fraud.
“The Republicans have no legal case,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said during a press conference Tuesday. “They are politically distraught.”
When GOP Sen. Joni Ernst was asked about voter fraud in her state of Iowa — a state that Trump won — she expressed doubt it had occurred.
“I don’t believe so,” she said. “Iowa has a really great election system and I trust the integrity of our process.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California went a step further and falsely claimed that Trump won the election.
“President Trump won this election,” McCarthy said during a Fox News interview. “So everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet. Do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes.”
Representatives-elect have also backed the president and have claimed without evidence that Biden is stealing the election.
Reps.-elect Majorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert—both backed by the conspiracy group QAnon—have tweeted that they refuse to accept the election results.