Few Republicans have spoken out publicly against President Trump's refusal to concede the election he definitively lost, as he and his legal team continue to promote baseless claims of voter fraud.
Mr. Trump's campaign has launched lawsuits in several states won by President-elect Joe Biden alleging voting discrepancies, but nearly all of these challenges have been unsuccessful. Nonetheless, the president's legal team has continued to baselessly claim that fraud occurred. In a rambling, often incoherent news conference on Thursday, the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani falsely said that Democrats were attempting to steal the election.
"We cannot allow these crooks — because that's what they are — to steal an election from the American people," said Giuliani. "They elected Donald Trump; they didn't elect Joe Biden. Joe Biden is in the lead because of the fraudulent ballots, the illegal ballots that were produced and that were allowed to be used after the election was over. Give us an opportunity to prove it in court and we will."
However, Giuliani and other attorneys have been unable to provide any evidence of fraud in several of their lawsuits, and many of the lawsuits do not allege fraud. Mr. Biden won the election with 306 electoral votes and won the popular vote by more than 5 million votes.
Christopher Krebs, the former top cybersecurity official fired by Mr. Trump this week after his agency called the election the "most secure" in history, called the appearance by Giuliani "the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history" and "possibly the craziest" in a tweet Thursday.
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has become an outspoken critic of the president since leaving office, told CBSN on Friday that the news conference was "certainly as low as you can go."
Many Republicans have either stayed silent or explicitly backed the president, including the Republican National Committee. On Thursday, the official RNC Twitter account tweeted a video of Mr. Trump's attorney Sidney Powell incorrectly saying "Mr. Trump won by a landslide," which is demonstrably untrue.
But a few Senate Republicans have spoken against Mr. Trump and his attorneys' lies about the election. Senators Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Joni Ernst criticized the president for undermining Americans' faith in the democratic process and refusing to provide evidence to back his politically-motivated and false claims that the election was rigged.
"Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the president has now resorted to overt pressure to state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election," Romney said in a statement posted to Twitter. "It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president."
Sasse said in a statement that "what matters most at this stage is not the latest press conference or tweet, but what the President's lawyers are actually saying in court."
Sasse also mentioned the president's personal appeals to GOP officials in Michigan in a brazen attempt to overturn Mr. Biden's clear victory in the state. Michiganon Wednesday, but Mr. Trump invited Republican lawmakers in the state to come to the White House on Friday.
"Based on what I've read in their filings, when Trump campaign lawyers have stood before courts under oath, they have repeatedly refused to actually allege grand fraud - because there are legal consequences for lying to judges," Sasse said. "So no, obviously Rudy and his buddies should not pressure electors to ignore their certification obligations under the statute. We are a nation of laws, not tweets."
Ernst said Thursday on Fox News Radio that she took offense to Mr. Trump's claims, adding that "to have that accusation just offhandedly thrown out there just to confuse our voters across the United States, I think that is absolutely wrong."
Romney, who was elected in 2018 and doesn't face reelection until 2024, is a frequent critic of the president. Sasse and Ernst were both reelected this year, meaning that potential retaliation from the president would not affect their prospects of staying in power.
However, Senator Josh Hawley, who is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2024, told reporters on Friday that he would wait to see "more evidence of irregularities, of fraud" presented by the president's attorneys.
"This is exactly why we have a system," Hawley said.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has frequently voiced support for the president, questioned the false claims by the president's attorneys on his show Thursday. Carlson said he had invited Powell to appear on his show. However, the attorney refused.
"We invited Sidney Powell on the show. We would have given her the whole hour," Carlson said. "But she never sent us any evidence, despite a lot of requests, polite requests. Not a page. When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her."