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Mitch McConnell says Trump has every right not to concede until election is certified

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has resisted pressure to recall senators from the congressional recess.
(Associated Press)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Monday said President Trump has every right not to concede the presidential election and that Americans should allow the election process to unfold.

“This process will reach its resolution,” McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor. “Our system will resolve any recount or litigation. In January, the winner of this election will place his hand on a Bible, like has happened every four years since 1793.”

While the country is going through the standard process of certifying election results before the state’s appointed electors cast their votes — a process, McConnell pointed out, where it has not been uncommon for litigation and recounts — several Republicans have followed Trump’s lead in not recognizing President-elect Joe Biden as the likely winner.

News outlets “call” an election based on the preliminary results of each state’s ballot count, to determine the likely winner of the election. The major news outlets — Fox News, the Associated Press, the New York Times and CNN, to name a few — have said the former vice president is the likely winner based on the votes that have been counted.

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Normally, this is when a candidate concedes. However, in 2000, then Vice President Al Gore conceded the race on election night, only to later retract his concession when it turned out the margin in Florida made the race too close to call. The election was eventually settled by the Supreme Court.

But while the 2000 election hinged on the results in Florida, Biden appears to have won enough states that Trump’s legal efforts would have to overturn results in several states.

President Trump moved quickly to fire the defense secretary he derided as “Yesper” after Joe Biden declared victory in the 2020 election.

Other Republican senators, such as Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), have congratulated Biden as the president-elect. McConnell stopped short of doing the same on Monday, once again saying that all the legal votes had to be counted and all illegal votes must not be counted.

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Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud and criticized Republicans for not congratulating Biden.

“Joe Biden won this election fair and square,” Schumer said.

McConnell did not mention Biden’s name during his speech, but said just because the race has been called doesn’t mean Trump needs to concede.

“The projections and commentary of the press do not get veto power over the legal rights of any citizen, including the president of the United States,” McConnell said.

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There will be recounts in at least Wisconsin and Georgia, both states where Biden won by a few thousand votes. Republicans are currently challenging whether mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania received after election day should count, but experts say those ballots are unlikely to change the results.

McConnell said everyone should want the election results to be vetted.

“If any irregularities occurred this time, of the magnitude that would affect the outcome, then every single American should want them to be brought to light. And if Democrats feel confident they have not occurred, they should have no reason to fear any extra scrutiny.”

None of the Republican members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation has congratulated Biden. Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Thomas Massie have raised debunked claims of voter fraud. On Twitter Monday, Rep. Andy Barr said the “mainstream media doesn’t get to decide when the election is over.”

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“After the process is exhausted, a winner can be declared,” Barr said. “In the meantime, both campaigns have the right to challenge any ballots they believe were illegally cast or improperly counted, and present evidence in support or in opposition to those claims.”


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