For much of the world, Joe Biden became president-elect on November 7, when all the media wizards officially announced that he had won over 270 electoral votes. But given Donald Trump’s vociferous refusal to accept the results, many Republican officials kept their mouths shut through weeks of futile lawsuits while privately accepting the inevitable. All 50 states certifying the results by the Safe Harbor Deadline made Biden’s win definitive — and the U.S. Supreme Court’s speedy rejection of Texas’s petition to overturn the vote in four key states last week provided an exclamation point.
Still, it took one more moment of drama to convince Mitch McConnell and many of his fellow Republican senators to throw in the towel. After the Electoral College formally voted on December 14 to give Joe Biden his 306 electoral votes, the dam finally broke:
Note that McConnell held out even longer than Russian President Vladimir Putin, who congratulated Biden a few hours earlier.
A cascade of other Republican senators have admitted the obvious as well. The Hill lists John Thune, Roy Blunt, Shelly Moore Capito, Rob Portman, Lamar Alexander, and even the supreme Trump brown-noser Lindsey Graham as having acknowledged that Biden is the president-elect. Politico added Mike Rounds to the list, while noting Ron Johnson, Steve Daines, and Jim Inhofe as hold-outs. The key quote was from Thune, who said yesterday that “it’s time for everybody to move on.”
Other than the pressure this puts on Team Trump to end the charade and provide for an orderly transition (which it may be doing behind the scenes, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to meet with his designated successor, Anthony Blinken, later this week), this shift of public positioning by Republican senators may crucially undercut the bitter-end effort by congressional conservatives to mount a futile protest to the certification of the Electoral College results in Congress on January 6. Indeed, the Senate’s number-two Republican, John Cornyn, told Politico that gambit would represent a “bad mistake.” It only takes one senator to join with Mo Brooks and the House Freedom Caucus members planning the January 6 protest to guarantee a vote Republicans would prefer to avoid (McConnell privately told his colleagues the necessity of voting it down would make them look anti-Trump), but it clearly won’t have much traction.
So the president and his MAGA bravos are increasingly isolated. You have to know two other Republican senators, Georgia’s David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, are praying the president will give up so they can unite their party before the January 5 runoffs in their state, which will determine control of the Senate. But an isolated Trump is a dangerous Trump, so we’ll have to see what he does next.